Gary Hamilton declared himself “very pleased” with the pre-season preparations as he looked forward to tomorrow’s visit to Warrenpoint Town for the first game in the 2017-18 Danske Bank Premiership season. “The lads have all put in a lot of hard work over the weeks of pre-season. They’ve made a big effort to prepare for the season ahead and their commitment and the hours of training and warm-up games they’ve put in without pay should stand them in good stead.

“The lads’ fitness is as good as I’ve seen it and that’s thanks to the work they’ve done with Kris (Lindsay) and Gerry Mulgrew, our fitness conditioning coach. Hopefully that will give them every opportunity to get off to a good start and get some results under our belt.”

Mark Sykes is suspended for the first two games of the season but the rest of the squad is fit and available for selection. Joel Cooper is heading off to the USA on August 22nd to start a two and a half year sports scholarship. “We’re disappointed to lose a very good player like Joel but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and an exciting challenge for him, to study for a degree and play football at the same time. It was a blow that we also lost Greg (Moorhouse) due to family reasons so it’s been a difficult and busy few weeks for me but we can’t blame the players.

“We expect a tough game tomorrow, with Warrenpoint coming up as champions and with the confidence of winning their league and on a good run of results from last season. Promoted teams often start well and Warrenpoint have a lot of experienced players in their squad so we know we’ll have to be on top of our game” Gary concluded.

Reminder: Saturday’s game has a 5:30pm kick-off.