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Giving it the works

Paddy McLaughlin says he can’t wait to begin doing his homework on Cliftonville’s European opponents.

The draw for the Preliminary Round of the Europa League takes place on Tuesday and McLaughlin – whose side will face one of Barry Town United, Cardiff Metropolitan University (both Wales), Engordany, Sant Julia (both Andorra), St Joseph’s (Gibraltar) or Tre Fiori (San Marino) – is counting down the minutes until he can refine his personal preparations.

“We’ve been back training for a week now and it’s been all about working hard,” explains McLaughlin.

“We want to make sure we’re in good shape for our European games, so we brought the boys back in after a few weeks off and everybody’s been up for it and ready to go again.”

The team return to match action in Friday night’s friendly with Derry City at Brandywell Stadium, by which time the identity of the Reds’ next continental rivals will have been confirmed – and the Manager is looking forward to the pre-season programme stepping up.

“The friendly games will be great to help get us sharpened up but it will be good to know who we’re playing in Europe so we can start doing our homework,” he adds.

“We want to give ourselves the best possible chance of doing well in Europe so, no matter who we come up against in the draw on Tuesday, it won’t change the fact that we’ll have to keep working as hard as we possibly can in training, in friendlies and in everything we do.”