Cliftonville game gets the go-ahead

Larne man Marc Smyth who plays for Cliftonville.
Larne man Marc Smyth who plays for Cliftonville.

As revealed on earlier this week, Irish League champions Cliftonville are on their way to Inver Park for a big pre-season friendly - and Larne manager Davy McAlinden is confident the Belfast club will be bringing a full squad for the battle of the Reds.

“The match is now definite and it will be played on Saturday, July 26 with the kick-off at Inver Park being at 3 pm. And I am absolutely delighted to have Cliftonville come down here,” said the former Solitude defender.

Asked whether it will be a skeleton team just to fulfil the fixture or if the East Antrim supporters can expect to see the nucleus of the side that has won back-to-back Gibson Cups, he is optimistic they will be near enough full-strength.

“I am pretty sure Tommy Breslin will be bringing down a full squad. Obviously, Liam Boyce will be missing now that he has joined Ross County in the Scottish Premier Division, but otherwise I would imagine the supporters will be seeing most of the household names.

“And, of course, that means it will be a monumental test for the new-look Larne team, but hopefully we will have played a few other pre-season matches before the huge examination of our strength and ability.

“It’s great to get a match like this pencilled into our summer itinerary, a huge challenge for us to focus on and the lads will now be buzzing in pre-season training - which starts this Saturday.

“While Cliftonville will be the showpiece and clearly the top opposition we will face ahead of the Championship 1 kick-off, there are some other nice wee fixtures slotted into the calendar.”