Wednesday 13 December 2017

Buckley: we need win

LIAM BUCKLEY has promised St Patrick's Athletic fans that his new-look side will not be in pre-season mode when they take on Cliftonville in their season-opener in Belfast tonight.

With just five senior members of last season's squad still on the books at Richmond Park, Buckley will be handing out a large number of debuts when the Saints take on the Reds at Solitude (7.45) as the coach has made 14 new signings in the off season.

Pats have a ready-made excuse if they fail to deliver against Cliftonville, but Buckley insists that winning the tie and making into the next round of the Setanta Sports Cup is a priority.

"We're still a few weeks away from the start of the league season but we're not treating this game like a friendly, we're serious about it," said Buckley, ready for his first challenge in his second spell as Pats boss.

"We want to win some trophies this season and the Setanta Cup is something we'd love to win.

"There is prize money at stake, there's a trophy and there's the title of All-Ireland champions, so that's something to aim for and we're taking this game very seriously. Hopefully we can get a good result in Belfast to take back to Inchicore for the second leg next week," added Buckley, aware that Cliftonville knocked Pats out of this competition at the first round stage last season when the Reds won 3-2 on aggregate.

With only Ian Bermingham, Ian Daly, Conor Kenna, Sean O'Connor and Jake Carroll left over from last season, Pats fans will need time to get to know their new men, though Greg Bolger and John Russell miss out tonight through suspension.

"All of the new players have looked good in pre-season but young lads like Christopher Forrester and Jake Kelly have been very impressive," added Buckley.

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