Waterford United get their 2010 Airtricity First Division campaign underway with a southeast derby against Wexford Youths at the RSC on Friday at 7.45.
After a fruitful pre-season, the Blues are anxious to hit the ground running and manager Stephen Henderson is confident his new-look side can improve on last year when, still fighting on all fronts, they just ran out of steam in the closing stages.
Though Michael Devine, Kenny Browne and Graham Cummins have left in the close season, the squad has been boosted by the arrivals of Chris Konopka, John Hayes, Gareth Cambridge, Timmy Purcell and Liam Kearney.
The Blues have a good record against their pink-shirted next-door neighbours, with five wins and two draws in their eight competitive meetings to date.
Henderson will have to plan without influential full back John Kearney, serving a carry-over suspension from last season. Midfielder Paul McCarthy has been carrying an ankle knock but is expected to be fit.
“Our pre-season was excellent [16 goals scored – seven by Vinny Sullivan – and three conceded], the lads worked extremely hard, and we feel they are at their maximum fitness levels with the exception of a couple who either came in late or picked up injuries,” he says.