FINN HARPS’ boss, Peter Hutton, is set to follow in the footsteps of his father, Peter sen., when the Donegal side travels to Longford Town tomorrow afternoon. (Kick-off: 3.30 p.m.)
And while the 38-year-old is expected to command a place in the heart of the Harps defender, fellow new recruits, J. P. Gallagher could join him in the back four at left-back with striker, Stephen O’Donnell, competing for a place in the front line with Kevin McHugh considered doubtful for the game.
Definitely out will be regular centre-back, Packie Mailey and right-back, James Doherty, who both missed last weekend’s defeat by Cork City due to injury, therefore, both Hutton and Gallagher are expected to make their debuts at Flancare Park.
With left-winger, Marc Brolly, also ruled out - he’s getting married this weekend - regular full-back, Ciaran Coll, is expected to be deployed on the left wing with Gallagher playing in his accustomed role.
In fact, during the week, all three new faces got a run-out in a friendly fixture against Ulster Senior League side, Bonagee United, in Letterkenny, when Harps ran out comfortable 6-0 winners. O’Donnell netted a hat-trick in that game while Hutton was also among the goals.
Strong on the ball
“Stephen was very strong on the ball and took his chances very well but he probably still needs more games before he finds peak form,” declared Hutton.
“We’ve lacked that wee bit of a presence when we were under the cosh. Somebody to hold the ball up and take the pressure off. But Stephen definitely gives us that dimension and will prove a great addition to the squad,” added the team boss.
“It was an ideal workout for us in regard to getting players more game-time as some of the lads that haven’t featured much this season got extra minutes under their belts.
“J. P. came off at half-time as a precaution, we didn’t want to take any risks, but he’s fitting in well. It was also good for me to get another run out. It helps give me a better understanding of what we’re good at and where we might need improving.”.
Harps lost their first match in three last week when Cork City left Finn Park with a 2-0 victory. It was a game in which Hutton felt Harps never really got going.
“We were very flat against Cork, we were more disappointed with our own performance. We just felt like we didn’t do ourselves any justice. Too many balls were going sideways and back. We didn’t really trouble them in attack, while the goals we conceded were too soft. It’s something we have to learn from”, he continued.
Flancare Park has been a venue where Harps have struggled over recent seasons. “They are a hard-working and very well-organised side”, noted Hutton ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the Midlands.
“They don’t give many goals away - especially at home - so we know it will be a tough fixture. But we are quietly confident that we’ll have learned something from the two games we played against them recently (in the cup). We drew with them down there in the first game and we felt the second game was one of our better performances.”