Belfast Telegraph

Currie targets veteran reinforcements for Ports' battle

By Stuart McKinley

Niall Currie is planning to overhaul his Portadown squad by adding as many as half a dozen players in January. The new Shamrock Park boss has wasted no time in evaluating his playing resources and he has concluded that major reinforcements are needed in the battle against relegation.

Currie's hands are tied by the club's current ban on signing professionals but, after revealing when he was appointed two weeks ago that he already had two new players lined up, more arrivals are now in the offing.

There is no doubt that the Ports need to bulk up their squad, having had four teenagers on the bench for Saturday's 2-0 victory over Dungannon Swifts and three of the starting line up - Ken Oman, Keith O'Hara and Robert Garrett - are suspended for Monday's Mid-Ulster derby against Glenavon.

Add to that the departure of Eoin Kirwan - who was brought to the club by former assistant manager Vinny Arkins - and it is likely that Sam Simpson, who also came from the Leinster League, will leave too.

Portadown will aim to benefit from rules which allow free movement of amateur players at seven days notice, but it won't be until the visit of Glentoran to Shamrock Park on January 3 that Currie - whose excitement at being boss of his hometown club hasn't died down - will be able to field any new faces.

"I am over the moon to be here and the supporters are happy I am here - most of them - but we've a real job to do and ultimately I'll be judged on results," said the former Ards supremo.

"We need to really bulk up the squad desperately and hopefully we can do that in January.

"We are very confident we'll be able to bring in five or six players into the squad.

"Against Dungannon our bench was kids.

"They are wonderful kids, they have great futures, but we've got to be careful too.

"Sometimes you can throw kids in a bit too soon.

"Eoin Kirwan is away. We had a chat last Thursday night and it was agreed that he left the club.

"He came to me and said that was him finished and I said absolutely no problem and wished him all the best.

"Sam Simpson is on holiday and we'll get a chat when he comes back."

Currie is hoping to add experience as well as the ability to make an impact - particularly in tight games.

If the club is going to win its relegation fight, it must have a few leaders and inspirational characters in the dressing room.

Seven of the Ports' defeats this season have been by just a single goal and with two draws as well, Currie is endeavouring to bring in players who will help to close those fine margins.

"We need to be in a situation where we can change a game and, while it is a wonderful experience for the kids getting onto the bench, some of them are only 16, which is very, very young and we need to strengthen the squad," he said.

"The club wants to do that and I am very confident we can bring in four or five at least."

Tickets for the Boxing Day clash at Shamrock Park have now sold out.

• FORMER Portadown skipper John Convery has agreed to join the club's coaching team.

It's a quick reunion with Niall Currie as Convery was coaching young players at Ards.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph