United release midfielder Carson

BALLYMENA United manager Glenn Ferguson has admitted he was sorry to have to release midfielder Rory Carson from the club.

The former Bradford City apprentice has been deemed surplus to requirements at the Showgrounds and becomes the second player to leave Ballymena this summer, following leading goalscorer Gary McCutcheon’s switch to Crusaders.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Ferguson told Times Sport.

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“It wasn’t any question of Rory’s footballing ability - I told him that if I had the budget to do so, I would have kept him.

“But we have an abundance of players who can play in midfield and we need to free up some money to be able to sign a striker, which remains our priority,” added Ferguson.

The manager has also finalised his pre-season plans, which includes a trip to Dublin for a four team tournament involving hosts St James’ Gate, Welsh side Port Talbot Town and English League One side Leyton Orient on July 14-15.

“The chairman of St James’ Gate phoned me and asked me if I would be interested in taking part.

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“I put it to the Board and they backed me completely. It will be a chance to get two games under our belts against good quality opposition but it will also allow the players to spend time together as a squad.

“The tournament comes two weeks after we start pre-season so it will give us an indication of how we are coming along at that stage.

“It will be good for our players to test themselves against full-time professionals like Leyton Orient and the Welsh Premier League, where Port Talbot play, is a good standard as well,” added Ferguson.

United’s pre-season campaign - which will see all matches played away from home with the exception of the club Open Day - reads:

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Tuesday, July 10 v Bangor (away, 7.45pm) Saturday/Sunday July 14/15 - four-team tournament in Dublin; Tuesday, July 17 v Albert Foundry (away, 7.45pm); Saturday, July 21 v Ballywalter (away, 3pm); Tuesday, July 24 v Larne (away, 7.45pm); Saturday, July 28 - Open Day (to be confirmed, 3pm); Tuesday, July 31 v Ballymoney United (away, 7.45pm); Saturday, August 4 v Derriaghy CC (away, 3pm); Tuesday, August 7 v Ballyclare Comrades (away, 7.45pm).

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