CLIFTONVILLE boss Paddy McLaughlin believes that Paul Doolin will have Portadown set-up and organised well ahead of their clash at the weekend.
The Reds make the trip to Shamrock Park on Saturday (3pm kick-off) looking to clock up a fourth win on the trot against as a Ports side that are without a win or a point in their opening four encounters.
Despite their poor opening to the campaign, McLaughlin isn’t expecting an easy ride and will be glad that the transfer window closes prior to the clash so that focus can return between now and January.
“Portadown will be a tough game,” he predicts.
“You know what they’re like – full of young players and they play good football.
“They were beaten by Glentoran last weekend, but Glentoran were excellent, and they didn’t always have it their own way in the game.
“We watched just to keep an eye on them. it’s a difficult place to go – all sides always seem to find it really difficult going down there.
“Paul Doolin is a legend of the game and a brilliant manager. He’ll have them well set-up and well organised and they’ll be hard to beat.
“It will be a tough game for us but I’m looking forward to it, by then the transfer window will be closed so then we can focus on the season from now to January because at the minute there are all these rumours and everything up in the air with players.
“It’s a bit of a distraction at times so hopefully when the window closes come the Portadown game it will be full focus from here to January.”
The Reds’ manager hailed the squad available despite injuries to Levi Ives and Stephen Mallon and hinted that he may look to complete some late business this week.
“We’ve got class players and a few players not even striped out,” he acknowledged.
“Stephen Mallon was injured, and we had to take Rory (Hale) off with a tight hamstring.
“We’ve got some really, really top players in all departments. When we are strong, together, fit and have everyone available, we are a real powerful unit.
“It’s important that we stay focused on how good we are, not get too bogged down on soft goals here and there- that will improve as the season goes on. We have got a really strong squad of players as long as they are all fit and well.
“Levi is another one out long term, but we’ve got a squad that’s more than capable of dealing with those injuries.
“The transfer window is closing this week, we didn’t think we would have much activity but with a couple of injuries you never know what could happen over the next few days.”
McLaughlin isn’t expecting any departures given the relatively small pool available and insists they need to add rather than lose players.
“I don’t imagine there will be too many players leaving,” revealed McLaughlin.
“The players we have are real quality and we’ve a small squad of 18 or 19 senior players and one or two young lads, so we haven’t got the squad to be looking to move anybody on.
“We need to be adding rather than let people go, so I can’t see anybody leaving.
“One of those Sheiks might come along with a big bag of money that you can’t turn down, but hopefully not – I can’t see anybody leaving. Maybe additions more than people leaving.”