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Barry Gray says preparations for the forthcoming Danske Bank Premiership season will be stepped up in tomorrow’s friendly with Shelbourne.

Cliftonville host Ards in the domestic curtain-raiser on August 12 and, with a fortnight to go until the big kick-off, Gray is looking forward to fine-tuning things during the remainder of the Reds’ warm-up schedule – starting with this weekend’s trip to Tolka Park.

“We set out a programme of different tests that we wanted throughout pre-season and we always had the last two matches in mind for getting the starting XI into shape for the first League game,” he explains.

“The Training Camp in Fermanagh last week was a good break for us, but really it signalled the end of what pre-season had been all about up until then. Now we need to go up the ladder again and make decisions about the team that’s going to play against Ards.

“I’m not saying the team that faces Shelbourne will be the same as the one you’ll see in a couple of weeks’ time, it’s more a case that I have the majority of the starting XI in my mind and this will be one of the last chances for me to make a final call on a couple of positions.”

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Supporters are advised that the possibility of traffic congestion in the area (due to two Senior Football Championship Quarter Finals being played at the nearby Croke Park) means journey times should be planned accordingly.