David McCullough is backing old friends of the club to help build a bright future at Loughgall.
The Villagers enter the Bluefin Sport Championship programme aiming to make early strides thanks to steps taken across the summer transfer window.
McCullough’s role as club captain offers an insight into the Lakeview Park roster and the experienced midfielder draws confidence from those on board.
“Bringing people like Ricky Copeland, Jamie Douglas and Dale Malone back to the club can only help everyone move forward with a smooth transition,” said McCullough. “Personally, I’ve played at clubs in the past with Fra Brennan so know what he can bring to the squad and when I look around I see a panel of players who should not take time to settle.
“Although missing out on the top six last season was a blow, one benefit to come from those final games was the promotion of youth by the boss.
“That was an active move to help integrate younger players into the first-team matchday squad and I have been impressed by the continuation of that progress over pre-season.
“Too often last season it seemed as if injuries and suspensions cost us.
“Ultimately, we are looking to get some consistency with our results and having players who can settle in quickly and add depth will all help towards that goal.”
McCullough accepts with pride the additional responsibility that comes with sporting the skipper’s armband.
“I’ve had it a few times in the past at previous clubs if someone was maybe out injured but this is the first place to name me club captain,” said McCullough. “If I can help out by using my experience, especially with the younger players, then that’s ideal.
“Everyone has impressed over pre-season, with some looking especially strong and working extremely hard, even in personal time outside of the club training schedule.
“Having a personal trainer and gym facility on board at the ground is a great help and something quite a few of the guys have been keen to utilise.
“Getting people back from long-term injury is a real bonus as well and everyone is looking forward to the start of the season.
“At times with so many faces used to being around the club it can lead to the group starting to stagnate but I see a real hunger across the squad.
“Last season we struggled early on then put together an excellent run of results, only to fade away and suffer again with that lack of consistency.
“Everyone just wants to get the season going now.”