Pleasing performances in the opening two matches of the pre-season programme were the upside of the last week for Larne manager Davy McAlinden, but there was a huge downside with the loss of experienced defender Chris Rodgers to injury.
“This was a big blow. Chris was at every single training session since we got back after the summer recess and he was apparently in tip-top shape and looking really good. Now he will be out for quite a long while,” revealed a rather despondent McAlinden.
“He had just got back in March from an operation and the medical people were optimistic his knee problem was sorted.
“So it’s a really bad bit of luck for Chris for this to happen after all his hard work to get back to playing the game and looking forward to the new season.
“He just appeared to turn the wrong way and down he went.
“It’s an awful pity for Chris himself and it’s a major disappointment as well for the club, but these are part of the hazards of playing football and there are always injury risks every time you go out to play.”
McAlinden, who is on the cusp of his first full season in management, was otherwise pleased with the way things went in the matches.
“These games are all about giving players minutes on the pitch in matchplay situations and I was happy with a 2-0 win over Newington on Tuesday night and a 3-1 victory over Albert Foundry,” he said.
“They were typical friendly games but they are helping get the players up to speed and we were able to try out some of the things we were practising in training.
“Next up is the big friendly with Cliftonville and I’m confident Tommy Breslin will be bringing a strong squad, even though the Reds also have a game against Banbridge Town on the same day.
“It will be a serious test for us against the back-to-back Premiership champions and I’m sure the supporters will turn out in numbers and enjoy the big day.
“We then host Larne Tech Old Boys on Tuesday evening before concluding the pre-season programme with a game against Dunmurry Rec on Saturday week.”