Portadown manager Ronnie McFall is hoping to turn the absence of a Mid-Ulster derby date this weekend into a positive for his suffering squad.
International commitments with Northern Ireland under 21s have resulted in Glenavon postponing tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) Danske Bank Premiership visit to Shamrock Park until Tuesday, September 22.
The Ports can expect a financial setback due to the switch and fans must now wait for one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures of the Irish League season.
However, McFall is counting on the extra breathing space between games to help clear his Shamrock Park treatment table.
Captain Keith O’Hara and experienced goalkeeper David Miskelly remain unable to train due to injury, with playmaker Peter McMahon also ruled out. Mark McAllister is currently suffering from illness and Tim Mouncey has ankle trouble.
“We are glad of the free weekend in some respects as hopefully the additional time will allow a few of the players to recover from injury,” said McFall. “Although our pre-season programme was intensive, some players are at different levels at the minute due to summer unavailability.
“However, that fitness programme will pay off over the course of the season and everyone will reach the same level thanks to games.
“We have quite a few senior players ruled out at the minute but it opens the door for younger guys to get a chance at senior level.”
McFall will use the reserves’ league commitments to help build up match minutes for some of his squad before the next Danske Bank Premiership game against Glentoran on Saturday, September 12.
“Although none of those mentioned are ready to be involved yet, the reserves’ midweek games allow us to give players minutes,” said McFall. “Shea Conaty is back training now after, thankfully, getting the all-clear from his MRI scan.
“We suspected torn cartilage but that is not the case and his focus will now turn to building up fitness levels.
“We have sent David Miskelly for a scan to judge his knee injury and we do not want to take any chances on Keith O’Hara’s neck problem.”