New Carrick Rangers boss Kieran Harding says he is “really looking forward” to getting his team’s Premiership campaign underway next week.
The former Portadown assistant faces a baptism by fire in his first competitive game in charge of the Taylor’s Avenue outfit, with an opening fixture against Irish Cup holders Glenavon at Mourneview Park on Saturday, August 6.
But there is no lingering sense of apprehension, as an excited Harding told the Times he “can’t wait to get started”.
The manager and his staff have been hard at work in recent weeks in a bid to strengthen for the squad for the upcoming season, and a flurry of signings have taken place over the past week.
The club confirmed on Monday that defender Gareth McKeown has extended his stay, while at the weekend it was announced that 19-year-old striker Gary Lavery had joined after leaving Linfield in the summer.
The former Northern Ireland youth international took to social media to express his delight over the signing, tweeting: “Put pen to paper for @Carrickrangers for a year, can’t wait to playing week in week out and get myself away again.”
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Carrick-born midfielder Nathan Hanley has joined from Ballymena United, and the club has also confirmed loan signings of TJ Murray, aged 21, and 19-year-old Seanna Foster from Linfield.
“It has been a frantic few weeks and we will still need to add a few more names to the squad, ideally before the start of the new season,” said Harding.
“Signings such as Gary help bring some youth into the squad, but it is important that we combine that with experience in the form of Nathan and others.
“Our pre-season has gone well and, other than the blip against Newington, we have kept clean sheets in all our friendlies so far.”
Carrick’s pre-season game against local opponents Barn United at the weekend ended in a 3-0 victory for the Amber Army.
But following the cancellation of last night’s (Wednesday) match against Crumlin Star, Harding is on the hunt for replacement fixture.
He added: “It is important that we try and get another friendly squeezed in, due of the number of new players we have signed.
“Our opening Premiership game is just around the corner and it doesn’t come much harder than Glenavon, but I am really looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started,” the Carrick manager concluded.