Gareth Harkin in action against Shamrock Rovers.
You could forgive Gareth Harkin for wondering where he might fit into the Harps starting eleven, given the number of new arrivals at Finn Park this season.
Caolan McAleer, Barry Molloy, Jonny Bonner and Paddy McCourt will all offer options in a midfield where Harkin, Sean Houston and Michael Funston will also be hoping to start.
But the Letterkenny man said he’s excited about the talent and experience that’s now in the squad, even it means he’ll have to work even harder in order to win his place.
“For a while there in pre-season, we were struggling a wee bit for numbers, but it has all come together all of a sudden,” Harkin said.
“Ollie (Horgan) has brought together a group of players which looks a decent squad and that’s including the younger boys too. I have to say I was very impressed by the new players on Friday night. The work-rate was immense by the team and if we can bring that into the next few games coming up, we’ll do okay.”
Harkin came off the bench as a late substitute against Cork City. The game came after a frustrating pre-season during which an ongoing knee injury curtailed his appearances in training.
“I had a problem with the knee at the end of last season too,” Harkin explained.
“I started back doing a bit of gym work and hurt it there. I don’t think I had built it up enough and it meant then that I couldn’t take part in pre-season. It just needed rest.
“I didn’t get back training with squad until probably the week before the Cork game so it was a frustrating time.
“I came through that game okay, but to be honest, I wasn’t on for that long. The main thing now is to work on my match sharpness and take it from there.”
Harkin was in illustrious company on the bench last Friday night with Paddy McCourt also coming on as a second half substitute.
“He’s a class player,” Harkin said.
“I know from my time at Derry City and he was in the team then. He’s a brilliant signing for us. It’s not just about what he brings on the pitch, but he helps guys along. He talks to the younger players and is not afraid to say his piece.”
Both McCourt and Harkin will be in Ollie Horgan’s thoughts when the manager sits down to decide on his team for tomorrow night’s trip to Bray. Danny Morrissey will miss the game through injury so the manager will make at least one change.
“It’s going to be another difficult game,” Harkin said.
“Bray had a brilliant end to their season last year and form-wise, they were probably the second best side in the league, second to only Dundalk. So we know we’re going to be up against it.”