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David Cushley ready to welcome old club Ballymena United for new season

By Graham Luney

David Cushley says he’s relishing an early shot at his old club Ballymena United when the new Danske Bank Premiership season swings into action.

Champions Crusaders begin their title defence at home to David Jeffrey’s Sky Blues on Saturday, August 6 and former Showgrounds favourite Cushley is hoping to hit the ground running in north Belfast.

“I played against Ballymena United before, after I left them to join Lisburn Distillery, so it won’t be a new feeling for me,” said the winger.

“I must check if I have a suspension carrying over from last season but I’m hoping I’m free to play. I’ve got many good friends at Ballymena and I enjoyed my time there but players move on and I’m looking forward to starting the season competitively with Crusaders. The opening few games are always tough as teams are hungry to secure their first win.”

Linfield and Crusaders will collide for the first time in the third round of fixtures at Seaview on August 13. David Healy’s Blues will be clocking up the miles early on, heading to Ballinamallard United on the opening day. Also on August 6, Glenavon play Carrick Rangers, Glentoran host Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine are at home to Portadown, who will begin the season with a 12-point deduction handed out for a registration breach involving Peter McMahon. Sky Blues boss Jeffrey must wait until Saturday, October 8 to have his reunion with former club Linfield.

Standout fixtures (before the league split after match day 33): August 13: Crusaders v Linfield; August 20: Linfield v Glenavon; September 3: Cliftonville v Linfield; October 1: Glentoran v Linfield, Crusaders v Cliftonville; October 8: Ballymena United v Linfield; October 29: Linfield v Crusaders; December 17: Linfield v Ballymena United; December 26: Cliftonville v Crusaders, Linfield v Glentoran; December 31: Crusaders v Linfield; January 21: Crusaders v Cliftonville; February 25: Glentoran v Linfield.

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