Cork City to make wholesale changes for Pompey clash - but ex-Crystal Palace man will start

Ben Close has remained on the south coast after suffering a knock

Midfielder out of Pompey tour

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Cork City are set to make wholesale changes for their friendly against Pompey.

But boss John Caulfield will hand new signing Damien Delaney his first appearance in the Blues' maiden clash of the summer.

Kenny Jackett's troops kick off their pre-season campaign against the reigning League of Ireland premier division champions tonight at Turner's Cross (7pm).

However, Pompey will face a weakened Rebel Army side.

Cork are presently in the middle of their domestic campaign and face Legia Warsaw in the first qualifying round of the Champions League on Tuesday week.

With Caulfield prioritising those competitions, the manager will reshuffle his pack from the side that lost 2-1 to Dundalk on Friday to face Pompey.

Damien Delaney. Picture: PA Images

Damien Delaney. Picture: PA Images

However, Delaney will feature for the first time since returning from Crystal Palace.

Caulfield said: 'The big news is Damien Delaney making his debut.

'After Friday’s game, we will be making a lot of changes, and we also have Johnny Dunleavy coming back from a long-term injury and he will be involved.

'Steven Beattie missed Friday night, but he will also be involved, along with the likes of Peter Cherrie, Aaron Barry, Danny Kane, Conor McCarthy, Garry Buckley.

'We have Pierce Phillips back from a loan spell at Cobh and John Kavanagh back from Waterford, so all of those will take part. We also have a number of our Under 19s involved as well.'

'We will make a lot of changes from Friday, but we will still have a very fit and competitive team out, and we are all looking forward to the game.

It is important that the players who are on the edge of the first team get a chance to show what they can do, and Damien has come back and wants to get cracking.

'For the under-19 lads, it is a chance to show what they have to offer and also for them to understand the difference in the level.'

With an important clash against Legia Warsaw approaching - and with Cork pushing to defend their League of Ireland title - Caulfield sees the game against Pompey as a way to enhance competition in his squad.

The Rebel Army manager added: 'We have a busy period coming up, and these games will give guys match time and keep them on their toes.

'We have European games coming up, as well as some crucial league games, and we need everyone fit and on the button.

'It will be competitive and interesting game.'