Davy McDaid believes Cliftonville will be a force to be reckoned with next season.
The Reds have impressed during the summer with a superb Europa League qualifying win over FC Differdange.
A 1-1 draw in Luxembourg was followed by last week’s stellar 2-0 win at Solitude as Gerard Lyttle’s men sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory.
McDaid scored the opening goal in north Belfast, with Jay Donnelly adding a second to earn a second qualifying round tie against AEK Larnaca.
The first leg is on Thursday night at Solitude (7.45pm), and McDaid hopes the Reds can continue on an upward curve against the Cypriot visitors.
“The win against Differdange was superb. It showed how much quality and character we have,” the striker said.
“We managed to get a late draw in Luxembourg, and that gave us confidence going into the second leg.
“I think the manager set us up perfectly, and we frustrated Differdange. They didn’t know how to handle us, and they tried a physical approach which just didn’t suit them.
“Thankfully we got the two goals and we progressed. It is a massive boost for the club, especially with the financial windfall that comes with European football.”
McDaid believes Cliftonville’s European adventure this summer will stand them in good stead ahead of the start of the Danske Bank Premiership on August 6.
The Reds finished fourth last season but lifted the League Cup for a historic fourth year in succession.
“When you look at our squad, we have the potential to win major trophies,” added McDaid.
“But for whatever reason we haven’t done that in the past two years. We have won the League Cup, but we have faded in the title race.
“We haven’t managed to sustain a challenge in the Premiership, and that is disappointing. And it is something we have to work on.
“Is it a mental thing? I am not sure. But we have to make sure we address those problems.
“On paper we have a fantastic squad, and with the addition of Jason Mooney and Jason McGuinness we have added more quality.
“I think we can push on and hope for a good season this year. I think we have a great opportunity to make an impression in the Premiership.”
McDaid – who scored 20 goals last season – admits he is relishing the domestic kick-off on August 6 when Cliftonville start their Premiership campaign against promoted Ards.
“I can’t wait for it to start,” added the 25-year-old.
“I scored 20 goals last season and that’s something I want to improve on.
“We have some quality strikers at the club, including Darren Murray, Jay Donnelly and Daniel Hughes.
“They are all very good strikers, and my primary aim is to just make sure I am in the team and playing games.
“I need to make sure my name is on the team sheet before I can start scoring any goals.
“I know I need to bring my A-game to the table if I want to be stating games for Cliftonville. But that’s what you need, you want that competition to drove you on.
“Hopefully this European success will help sharpen the lads for the start of the domestic season. Playing against quality European opposition will certainly do us no harm.
“AEK are relatively unknown to us, but we will do our homework and watch a few DVDs and we will prepare as professionally as we can.
“I know the manager will have us ready.”