Reds and Sky Blues bound for Inver

Larne FC assistant-manager Mark Carlisle. INLT 26-937-CON

Larne FC assistant-manager Mark Carlisle. INLT 26-937-CON

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Matches against Cliftonville and Ballymena United are the big-name attractions bound for Inver Park as Larne FC begin their preparations for a season which they hope will culminate in a return to top-flight football.

“It will be pre-season friendly action, but it will still be interesting for the team to gauge themselves against two of the top teams in the country,” said assistant-manager Mark Carlisle, who admits he already has one regret - about the timing of one of the two big games.

“The Ballymena match is on the first Saturday of August and, given my long association with the Braidmen, I’ll be very disappointed to miss their visit to Inver Park. But, unfortunately, I’ll be busy with my coaching licence activities on that day - and my priority has to be with that.

“But, I will be on duty for the rest of the games, which are a good mix with teams of varying levels and they will all provide good tests of one kind or another.

“It all starts with an away game against Shankill United (kick-off at 7.30pm) on Tuesday, July 9. There’s another game to be pencilled in for Saturday, July 18, but it isn’t confirmed so I can’t give the name of the likely opponents that day for obvious reasons.

“July 21 sees us make the trip to play Albert Foundry and then we host Tommy Breslin’s Cliftonville at Inver on July 25. That’s sure to be a real crowd-puller.

“Glebe Rangers come down to Inver Park on July 28 and then it’s Ballymena on August 1,” added Carlisle, who was delighted to get back to pre-season training on Monday night.

“The boys were all enthusiastic when we met up with them a week earlier and that came across again at the first session on the park.

“The bond is obvious and it all augurs well for the return to action in just over four weeks from now,” he added.