Belfast Telegraph

Survival heroics would give us a big platform to build on: Currie

By Stuart McKinley

Niall Currie has laid down an early challenge to his Portadown players - to write their names in the club's history.

The new Ports manager finds himself fighting against the odds in a battle to avoid relegation, but he believes that the current squad will be as revered as the title-winning teams of the 1990s if they can stay in the Premiership after a 15-point penalty.

Add to that a ban on signing professional players and the size of the task is even greater - akin to a league success, and Currie believes survival could spark a revival.

"I think if we survive it would be massive," said Currie, who will lead his hometown club for the first time today when they face Cliftonville at Solitude.

"I would say that if this team could stay up after a minus start they would be held in very high esteem around the town, because it would give us a wonderful opportunity with the transfer embargo over in June to hit the ground running and to rebuild very quickly and get the kind of players that this club requires."

Currie has handed an immediate first-team return to striker Mark McAllister, who was dumped in the reserves by former boss Pat McGibbon, and he could be in for his first appearance since coming on as a half-time substitute against Ballymena United on September 17.

"I don't think we are in a position to rule one of the best strikers in the Irish League out of our squad," said Currie. "He has a clean slate. He's too good. He brings a lot to the table.

"If you get a motivated Mark McAllister you have one of the best strikers in the country. He's still a young man. I have heard different rumours about him going to different clubs, but I want to keep him here and I want him to help us in the fight ahead.

"If we can get him motivated and back to his best he will be a massive player. When I spoke to the board I told them that was what I wanted to do, I wanted him straight back in the squad."

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