Arkins’ focus only on Ports’ Oval test

Portadown interim manager Vinny Arkins. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Portadown interim manager Vinny Arkins. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown interim manager Vinny Arkins was hoping to enter training tonight with a final ruling on Robert Garrett’s eligibility - but admits his match preparations have centred around the absence of the midfield ace.

The Irish Football Association disciplinary committee met last night to discuss Garrett following a protest lodged by Ards in the aftermath of last weekend’s 3-1 victory for Portadown at Shamrock Park.

However, a ruling was not expected to be released until today.

The IFA and Northern Ireland Football League considered the issue “a matter of urgency” after Portadown played Garrett in the belief his suspension did not start until October 31.

However, the suspension list posted on the IFA website stated his ban was due to start on October 24.

If the IFA find Portadown guilty of a breach of the rules then Ards would be awarded a 3-0 win, with a £350 fine imposed.

In the aftermath of that verdict, it is understood any suspension would be considered void - making Garrett eligible for selection this weekend away to Glentoran.

“We went into last weekend with the understanding Robert was okay to play against Ards but not Glentoran,” said Arkins. “Our work towards this weekend was based around that situation.

“We had Ards watched ahead of the match at Shamrock Park and also Glentoran scouted last weekend, plus training is centred around who you have available or not.

“This situation is not the fault of the players so we can only focus on the football and must keep up the belief we can avoid relegation by working hard together.”

Regulations posted on the IFA website state that “any period of suspension arising from the accumulation of cautions or additional suspensions in respect of a dismissal will commence on the Monday following the time at which the suspension has been imposed.

“For the purposes of clarification, a suspension is imposed when the Suspension List is published on the Irish Football Association website”.