Scott Rea will bring some experience into the heart of Laurelvale's midfield.
THE Mid Ulster League returns this Saturday (August 22) and, at Laurelvale, a new era gets underway as Gary Millar takes charge of his first competitve fixture in the hotseat at Sidney Wright Park.
Valley Rangers will make the long trip from Kilkeel to square off with the new look Vale side that has undergone a mini makeover with six new players on board.
Matty Strain (winger), Wilson Montiero (winger/striker), Scott Rae (midfielder), Matthew Briggs (defender), Jamie Courtney (goalkeeper) and Sam Murphy (left back/midifelder) have all been brought in by the former Portadown striker.
Alongside the reshuffle on the field there has been new blood brought in along the sideline too, with Robin Carson (assistant manager), Matthew Hollis (coach), Aaron Dowey (goalkeeper coach) and longstanding Gareth Thornbury (coach).
Laurelvale kick off at 2.15pm on Saturday, August 22 with spectators welcome but there with be regulations in place within the ground, including social distancing and temperature testing on entry.
Vale boss Gary Millar said, "On a personal level I cannot wait until Saturday and we get our league campaign underway. The same goes for all my coaching staff as well they cannot wait until the first whistle and we can get to work.
"We have seen the fixtures; the first five games are against strong teams but we are going into each game focusing on ourselves and showing the league what this team is capable of. On a plus side, most of our opening fixtures are at home so we can turn Sid Wright Park into a tough place to come to."
Millar adds that his new-look side can't wait for the season to commence.
"The lads have had a tough preseason, lots of games and hard sessions but we have seen a great improvement in each game," he added.
"We demand a lot from the team and they have responded well and kept getting better and better each time we turn out. We are starting to build some momentum and hopefully we can take that into Saturday and hit the ground running.
"In terms of our expectations for the season, we are here to win. It's as simple as that. My coaching staff and I firmly believe the players can push in the top half of the table and the team are starting to believe that too.
"The players know the quality in the squad and it's now about producing consistent quality performances and I have no doubt the results will look after themselves.
"I knew before I took the job that last season was a hard year for Laurelvale but also knew that this team has the ability to do something special this season. We have strengthened the squad and will continue to do so where we can.
"We have put a huge emphasis on the players and their importance to the club. They know how much the club values their hard work on the pitch and the players recognise the hard work off the pitch and everything that goes on behind the scenes. So come Saturday after the game, Laurelvale FC will hopefully be able to celebrate getting three big points on the board."