Arrivals of Nacho Novo and Paddy McCourt to Irish League excite Crusaders captain Colin Coates

New Glenavon signing Paddy McCourt
New Glenavon signing Paddy McCourt

Crusaders captain Colin Coates is relishing the challenge of facing Nacho Novo and Paddy McCourt next season.

This month saw Northern Ireland international McCourt join Glenavon, while former Rangers star Novo signed a one-year deal with Glentoran on Tuesday.

Linfield have also made two big-name signings, with international goalkeeper Roy Carroll and midfielder Sammy Clingan bolstering the Blues’ ranks.

The new arrivals have raised the profile of the Danske Bank Premiership ahead of next Saturday’s big kick-off.

And Coates – whose Crues are preparing for Saturday’s Charity Shield curtain-raiser against Glenavon – admits it is good for the game.

“I think it is brilliant to have the calibre of these players coming to the Irish League,” Coates said.

“I am sure they are fired up and wanting to do well for their clubs.

“I remember training with Paddy McCourt on one of the international trips, and he was simply outstanding. In the small-sided games he stood out a mile, so he is definitely a great signing for Glenavon.

“Nacho Novo is another fantastic addition to the league, and another player I can’t wait to come up against.

“They are star quality and they will put bums on seats.

“Sammy Clingan is another great footballer, but out of them all I believe Roy Carroll is the best signing.

“Roy is 38 which is still young for a keeper. He has played at the highest level and is still playing for Northern Ireland.

“So Linfield have done some very good business.”

Crusaders have been shrewd in their own dealings ahead of the new season, with some big-name arrivals including David Cushley, Michael Gault, Howard Beverland and Philip Lowry.

“The manager always does his business early, so we can focus on the season ahead,” Coates added.

“The new players who have come in have looked sharp and raring to go.”

p Portrush will entertain Cliftonville in a special charity match tomorrow at Parker Avenue (3pm).

The game will be in aid of Alzheimer’s and a collection will be made at the game.