PREMIER manager Derek Sharpe has described the opportunity to take his 18-man squad to the Milk Cup tournament next week as ‘something I’ve always wanted to do’.
The Enniskillen man, along with coaches Shane McCabe and Neil Coalter, has been hard at work with the squad since early in the year and feels that the side can ‘cause problems’ against their opposition.
“We started back in February time and had 42 turn up initially, that went down to 26 for four weeks and then we got the the final 18.
“We’ve stepped it up a gear and played plenty of matches.
Derek acknowledged his teams strengths on the wings and noted the role experienced players will play in the side.
The premier side face Tyrone, Brentford and Lusaka in their opening fixtures, with Derek confident of causing all three sides problems.
“Tyrone is a big game for us being our neigbouring county and to play them on the first day if the boys play to their potential can set us up for a good week,” he said.
“Brentford will be a very good side having won the junior section with this squad two years ago and we will have to work hard and close them down early to stop them playing as much as possible.
“Lusaka are bit of an unknown quantity but I’ve been reading bit about them that they’ve played tournaments in Spain, Sweden and Norway before arriving for the Milk Cup and I think they will be physically very strong and fit and on the Ballymena showgrounds which is a big pitch it will test all the hard work the squad has put into fitness in the past five months.”
He added: “All three games will be tough for a variety of reasons but I don’t feel we should be intimidated by any of the sides and if we can play the football we are capable of we will cause all three sides problems.”
The squad have been training with guest coaches over the past few weeks including Andy Little, Roy Carroll, and Harry McConkey, which has left the squad in good spirits.
“There’s a great atmosphere in the squad – they’re buzzing and looking forward to getting started.”