FANS of Ballyclare Comrades will be treated to an almost brand new team with recruits in every department.
Manager Eddie Hill is unperturbed by the loss of several regulars. “The turnover in the playing staff will be the opportunity for a new beginning, “ he said. “For the past couple of seasons we have been in a rut, first flirting with relegation followed by relegation.
“Last season we were in with a chance of promotion but we blew up in the run-in, so the time is ripe for a few new faces,” he said.
The influx of new players will be welcomed by fans following the unexpected departure of several regulars, with local rivals, Larne, the main beneficiary.
Defender William Wharry led the exodus to Inver Park when he returned to his roots, and then he was followed by Scott Irvine and Andy Simms.
Defender Stuart Galbraith who had lost his place at the heart of the defence has linked up with Dundela, while Ronnie Burns and Mark McClelland have opted not to renew their contracts at Dixon Park.
Manager Hill has been quick to fill the gaps. Back comes livewire winger Gary Brown who had to drop out last season because of work commitments, and he will be joined by former Chimney Corner team-mate Adam Gray who operates in midfield or up front.
Another who has returned is Kyle Agnew - a popular figure on the Ballyclare terraces before following former manager, Jamesy Kirk to Nortel. Kyle is back home and he will add much-needed fire-power to the attack.
Nortel defender Andrew Doyle has also thrown in his lot with the Reds as has his team-mate Darren Doherty.
There was plenty of enthusiasm at the opening training session when 16 players were present.
“Gary Bell and I had a full training session so we reckon that we are good enough to play a full part on Saturday afternoons when required,” enthused Eddie.
“We also had another potential striker training with us, so there is no lack of optimism. The players I have brought in are in their early 20s, so there should be plenty of pace on the pitch, and that is something that was lacking last season.
“My assistant Gary Bell, and coach Stuart McClean and I have assessed the overall situation, and we are convinced that we will start the new campaign in a stronger position than we finished the previous one, having covered all the departures.
“In fact we are very optimistic, with promotion at the top of the agenda, but a good run in some of the Cups would be a bonus,” ended Hill.