Dungannon have quality to break into top six, says boss Rodney McAree
Rodney McAree is aiming for a top-six finish with Dungannon Swifts this season.
The last time the Co Tyrone club secured a top half placing was back in 2010.
But, after a busy summer in the transfer market, McAree believes they are better prepared than before.
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"We would love to finish in the top six - that's the challenge," he said. "It's not so much of a target, but a challenge to see if we can get there. Our finances haven't really changed, so it's difficult, but I believe we still have a good squad of players.
"We've added to the squad, we've recruited well in terms of the guys we've brought in and have done well in pre-season, so we have to see that as a positive and try and challenge ourselves to push into the top six."
Dungannon finished eighth last season and secured a first senior trophy, the BetMcLean League Cup, along the way.
Their main problem was a lack of goals, with the Swifts playing the first half of the campaign without a recognised striker.
Daniel Hughes arrived in January from Cliftonville and made a big impression, scoring eight times in 11 games, and this summer McAree has added Mark McAllister to his squad, giving the team even more firepower.
The other arrivals are Jake Dykes, a left sided central defender; midfielder Corey McMullan and goalkeeper Alex Moore on loan from Linfield.
McAree added: "This time last season we didn't have a centre forward.
"This season we're going in with two in Mark McAllister and Daniel Hughes.
"Daniel came in during January and showed his worth by scoring the goals he did. He's a quality player.
"I look at it and think we are stronger all over the pitch in terms of having more quality to chose from.
"I'm hoping that will contribute to us doing that bit better this season."
The main departures have been goalkeeper Andy Coleman (to Newry City) and winger Ryan Mayse, who has signed for Ballymena United, while Paul McElroy was this week placed on the transfer list.
Dungannon face Ballymena and Newry in their opening two games, followed by Cliftonville and Glentoran.
And, after losing their first three matches last term, McAree knows a more convincing start is vital if his side are to realise their ambitions.
"Losing the first three games on the bounce last year was tough to recover from," he added.
"We were wondering where would our first points come from, or where were we going to get a result from.
"You try to get those first points on the board as quickly as possible.
"It is about trying to keep in touch with everyone else for as long as we possibly can.
"In this league, as soon as a gap of seven or eight points opens up between teams, it is very difficult to claw that back.
"Everybody is picking points up off each other and it's very hard to string results together.
"We have to make sure we stay within touching distance of the teams above us."
For all the Swifts' transfer activity, perhaps their best signing came in April when McAree penned a new contract.
He has impressed since taking charge in 2015, securing the club's first big trophy in February.
With a three-year contract and a stronger squad, he will be aiming to build on last season and secure that top six finish.