IRISH LEAGUE: Numbers game adds up for Currie as Ports prepare to tackle Ards

Portadown manager Niall Currie. Pic by PressEyeLtd.

Portadown manager Niall Currie. Pic by PressEyeLtd.

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Managers may moan about selection headaches but Portadown boss Niall Currie considers competition for places the “perfect scenario” as he prepares to host former club Ards.

Saturday provided the highs and lows of football as the Ports booked a spot in the Irish Cup quarter-finals - then had post-match elation rocked by news of Carrick Rangers’ league win over Ards.

Rangers now hold a 12-point lead over basement side Portadown in the battle to beat the drop from the Dankse Bank Premiership.

However, Currie is holding on to hope and points to Portadown’s extra game as a silver lining plus puts his faith in a exodus out of the Shamrock Park treatment room.

“We could have people like Keith O’Hara, Garry Breen, Mark Carson and Sean Mackle back available for Saturday’s match with Ards,” said Currie, who left Ards last December to take up the manager’s role at his hometown club. “I have no problem with people judging me as a manager based on what happens with a full squad.

“This weekend probably marks the first since I arrived when I have choices to make.

“It is the perfect scenario and the reason why we must keep on believing we can beat the odds and survive.

“We have had wonderful support from day one and deserve to give the fans and club every chance of pulling off this miracle.

“Everyone is aware of the issues away from the football pitch and problems with points deductions, transfer restrictions and fines but it is my job as manager and the job of the players to focus on what happens on the field.

“We must finish this season having put everything into staying up and do not want to feel we could have done more on the pitch.”

Currie accepts a race against time given the league standings but remains positive.

“We have got to continue to back our players and I accept sections of the fanbase have maybe even given me a pass so far due to the selection issues with suspensions and injuries,” said Currie. “Too often, line-ups and formations have been forced on us by availability.

“It has been frustrating for us all but I just want a chance to have players back and be forced into difficult selection choices.”

Ards sit nine points above the drop zone but manager Colin Nixon accepts the relegation risks after last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Carrick Rangers.

“We are getting sucked in but now is the time to stand up and be counted,” said Nixon. “We should have basically a full squad and face Portadown prepared for a battle.

“The players are professionals and know last week against Carrick was not good enough.

“You can see in training this week the desire to put things right.”