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Cliftonville have nothing to fear in opening clash against new-look Glentoran, maintains Harney


Jamie Harney

Defender Jamie Harney believes Cliftonville face an early acid test with the visit of big-spending Glentoran to Solitude today.

It's a mouth-watering collision on the opening weekend.

Glens boss Mick McDermott flashed the cheque book over the summer, adding eight new players to his already sizable squad, whereas Paddy McLaughlin has been more economical in his dealings.

Former West Ham man Harney has a fair idea of what to expect from the new-look Glens because he is quite familiar with some of the recruits.

"I obviously know the Donnelly boys, Ruaidhri and Jay, very well as they were at Cliftonville for some time," he said.

"But I would be quite friendly with Jamie McDonagh and Dale Gorman, who were both in my Northern Ireland team growing up. I'm also best friends with Robbie McDaid.

"They have brought in a lot of quality, some superb footballers. I'm sure they are all going to take to this league very well.

"What we must do is focus on ourselves. It's 11 versus 11 on the pitch. We have confidence in ourselves, we can beat any side.

"It's not going to be the same without our full quota of fans, but it's better than nothing. They will help create a bit of an atmosphere.

"There is usually a bumper crowd at this fixture - Glentoran fans usually pack out the away end at the ground."

Even though McLaughlin wasn't tempted to add too much his panel - Ryan O'Reilly was his only summer capture - Harney believes the Reds are in a strong position squad-wise.

He added: "Paddy is very open with us. He maintains he wants to sign players that can improve the squad. He feels we have quality in our team and there is no point in bringing in someone to make up numbers.

"We also have some excellent young players emerging, the likes of Odhran Casey, Calvin McCurry and Donal Rocks. Paddy is the type of manager that will give them the opportunity.

"With finances the way they are because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I think promoting from within is a good thing to do. These players know they will get their opportunity if they prove their worth. Yes, people will think we haven't strengthened as much as some of the other teams, but we'll just go about our business quietly.

"I know we have relied a lot on Joe (Gormley) in the past, and it's something we have addressed. We now know the goals can come from all over the pitch, from the likes of Ryan Curran, Chris Curran, Mickey McCrudden and Conor McMenamin. These boys are beginning to peak coming into the new season. We are looking to improve on last season's performances."

Harney reckons Reds fans will see the best of McCrudden.

"I played against him when he was at Institute and he gave me a bit of a run around," he added.

"He came in midway through the season and he perhaps wasn't just as sharp as he normally is. I think he'll have a big season."

Belfast Telegraph