Paddy McLaughlin wants Cliftonville to get as much as possible out of this evening’s friendly with Ards.
The Reds take on the Bluefin Sport Championship side at Solitude (7.30pm) just nine days before tackling Barry Town United in the Europa League – and the boss knows the importance of improving on fitness levels and match sharpness ahead of their return to continental action.
“Last week’s game against Derry City was a good test for us against a good side,” he says.
“We needed a good test and we got everything out of it that we wanted out of it. We played some really good football and winning was a bonus. It’s not important but it’s good for confidence.
“A lot of our players got at least an hour under their belt before we brought on a lot of the younger boys, the same as Derry did.
“If we can keep playing as well as we did against Derry and keep getting fitter and stronger, then the signs are promising for us.”
The Reds claimed maximum points from all three Danske Bank Premiership meetings with Ards last season, winning 3-1 and 4-1 at Solitude either side of a 3-1 success at the Bangor Fuels Arena, and McLaughlin is looking forward to continuing his side’s preparations for Europe.
“We have this match against Ards and a friendly in Wales on Saturday (against Connah’s Quay Nomads) and the European tie next Thursday,” he adds.
“It’s going to be a busy schedule for us but the boys have been working hard and if you work hard you will be rewarded.”