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Boss taking the Long view

Paddy McLaughlin has welcomed the opportunity to run the rule over his new squad when Cliftonville host Longford Town in tomorrow’s friendly.

Already more than familiar with his options having overseen a host of training sessions since his arrival at Solitude, McLaughlin is looking forward to getting back to match action after commencing his tenure with last week’s defeat of Newry City and believes tomorrow’s fixture is a timely exercise less than a fortnight after his appointment as Manager.

“It will be a good chance for me to see some players who weren’t involved against Newry,” he explains.

“Picking the team last week was tough, especially after how hard everyone had worked building up to the game. I had to leave some people on the bench and others didn’t even make the squad, but they weren’t easy decisions because so many players had done so well in training.

“This friendly means I can take a closer look at some players and we can try out an idea or two before going back into training for League games returning next week.”

The contest, which supporters are reminded has a 2pm start, marks the final game of Longford’s pre-season programme ahead of their SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign kicking off at Limerick next Friday night.

Neale Fenn’s side – who finished fifth in last year’s table – commenced their warm-up programme with a 2-2 draw against Shamrock Rovers last month and, though beaten 4-0 by Bohemians next time out, responded with a 3-1 victory over Cork City before hitting back from two goals down to draw with Dundalk.

Last Saturday, meanwhile, saw De Town slip to a 1-0 loss against Sligo Rovers and, though tomorrow’s engagement at Solitude is ostensibly about the Strokestown Road side fine-tuning things ahead of their return to competitive action, Reds boss McLaughlin will likewise be keen to learn as much as possible about his players in advance of forthcoming sequence of trips to Warrenpoint Town, Ballymena United and Glenavon.

“There’s a very talented squad here and, though myself and the staff have only been in for a short time, we know all about the quality we have in that changing room,” he adds.

“Everybody will be working very hard to try and get the best out of everything we have and the game with Longford is a good opportunity to see where we’re at at the end of another hard week of training.”

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