IRISH LEAGUE: Currie keen to kick off summer plans at Portadown

Portadown manager Niall Currie. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown manager Niall Currie. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

The season’s final whistle on Saturday will herald one of the most significant summer spells in Portadown history.

The Ports visit Dungannon Swifts for the closing game of a Danske Bank Premiership campaign that has resulted in relegation - but with manager Niall Currie relishing the rebuilding job.

Currie is hoping to confirm a number of signings over the next few days as Portadown prepare for the challenge of a rapid return out of the Championship.

The Portadown-born boss can count four successful promotion periods back into senior football on his CV and admits excitement at the chance to reshape the Shamrock Park squad.

“You could be looking at a double-figure tally of new players starting next season at Portadown,” said Currie. “That is the scale of the job on our hands but one which I had to face at Annagh United, Loughgall and Ards.

“I have used the past few months since taking over in December to learn everything about this current group and what the club needs so we can hit the ground running.

“I will probably be spending the next two months or so glued to the phone trying to reshape the squad from the bottom up and get deals over the line.

“But I have a track record of doing just that at my previous clubs and will never hide away from that challenge.

“In fact, I am looking forward to the opportunity to mould a squad with the character, commitment and passion needed for us to achieve our goals.

“It is about having players with the right character as well as ability and we will analyse exactly what we need to achieve our goals.

“The priority is putting together a squad capable of getting us out of the Championship next season.”

The boss is keen to kick off life with Portadown in the Championship by calling on a 20-strong panel of players.

Currie left Ards last December to guide troubled Portadown back to a position from which they could hunt for silverware on a consistent basis and is determined to tackle the first hurdle thanks to a successful summer.

“I want to be working off a panel of 20 players or so, with the majority having senior experience and the rest packed with our promising young players,” he said. “That is a balance I think can help us get out of the Championship and back towards rebuilding the club at senior level.

“The progress so far of people like Ross Larkin, Luke Wilson and Zac Wilson is so encouraging, with others on that list of young talent.

“This season has allowed us a chance to give so many of them first-team minutes and the progress has been superb.

“We want to encourage that but also accept the Championship offers a different set of tests.

“We have to put together a squad ready for those unique challenges, in terms of mental and physical strength.

“It all comes back to character for me and that is the key ingredient, irrespective of age.

“We will go down as the scalp everyone wants next season but we have the summer to build on the progress so far.”