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Early signs for Paddy

Paddy McLaughlin is hopeful that Cliftonville’s early work on the transfer front can help his side hit the ground running in 2021.

The Reds return to action in Saturday’s Danske Bank Premiership clash with Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park but, rather than waiting for the Transfer Window to open, the Club were pleased to seal pre-Christmas deals for Aaron McCarey and Rory Hale as part of what McLaughlin labels a timely “shake” of his squad.

“The desire that both players had to play for Cliftonville made things easy,” he explains.

“Money wasn’t a factor for them, they made it very clear that they wanted to join the Club and that always makes things more straightforward.

“Getting those deals done early was a boost because it can be very difficult to sign players at this time of year. The January window is usually a case of seeing who’s out of favour at other Clubs or maybe trying to do short-term deals to tide you over for the rest of the season, so getting Aaron and Rory in have been good bits of business for us.”

While he does not expect the duo’s arrival to be the last pieces of transfer activity over the next few weeks, McLaughlin believes they can help make an early impact.

“The Club and supporters’ demands are high,” he adds.

“We’ve dropped too many points this season and haven’t been winning enough games. I know we’ve been very unfortunate with injuries and some decisions that have gone against us, but those are just excuses to the outside world and they don’t change your points tally or League position.

“We’ve had to give the squad a shake and I think Aaron and Rory can help us do that. They’ve both played at a high level and have high demands for themselves which they’ll push on to those around them.

“If you look at the way we want to play, when teams have stopped us playing our game, we haven’t had that player who will take things on themselves. Rory Hale has done that his whole career. We’ve been looking at areas in which we can improve when we’ve been trying to sign anyone and it’s been great to have these two boys come in early so that we can hopefully put this recent run behind us when we get back to playing at the weekend.”