DICKSON D-DAY

BALLYMENA United boss Tommy Wright expects to find out within the next 24 hours if his last-gasp bid to land Mark Dickson has been successful.

The out-of-contract Larne frontman trained at the Showgrounds on Monday night as he ponders which club to join for the start of the new season.

Wright had trailed Dickson – whose 21-goal haul last season was THREE TIMES as many as United's leading scorers – earlier in the summer, only for the Belfast man to sign a pre-contract agreement to link up with former boss Tommy Kincaid at newly-promoted Glenavon.

Following Kincaid's sacking, however, Dickson has opted not to join the Lurgan side and his pre-contract form has been ripped up.

"Mark enjoyed his session with us, we had a chat and now it's up to him to make a decision," Tommy told Times Sport.

"I didn't expect to get a second chance to sign Mark this summer but I expect a quick decision either way.

"As far as I can see, it's a straight choice between whether he joins us or whether he signs a new contract to stay at Larne.

"There isn't a 'Plan B' as such – if he doesn't join us it's likely we'll start the season with the panel we have currently.

"Andy Crawford, at Newry, is another striker I admire but we aren't in a position to pay a fee for him and I will continue to monitor that situation in the weeks leading up to the transfer deadline at the end of August."

Meanwhile, Wright will continue to fine-tune preparations for the new campaign with friendlies at Ballyclare Comrades this Saturday (Seven Towers Supporters' Club transport leaves Henry Street car park at 2pm) and at Bangor next Tuesday night.

"Those will be two tough workouts against good Division One sides and the side I put out in those games is likely to be some indication of who will start in the CIS Cup."

Representative teams from United will also be in action at Magherafelt Sky Blues tonight (Tuesday) and at intermediate neighbours Connor on Thursday night.

Jamie Marks (calf), Vinny Sweeney (knee) and Rory Hamill (groin) will all resume full training this week while Gary Haveron will play with a light cast after sustaining a suspected broken bone in his hand in last week's match at Coagh.

Sweeney, incidentally, has signed a one-year deal after finally completing his move from Limavady, while Northern Ireland under-19 striker Paul McDowell has also signed a 12-month deal from Glentoran.

o United have asked Glenavon to switch the CIS Cup group match, scheduled for the Showgrounds on Saturday, August 27, to Thursday, August 25, in order to avoid clashing with Black Saturday demonstrations.