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Eager Bennett excited by prospect of huge crowd at Munster derby

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Alan Bennett came straight into Cork City's pre-season preparations after agreeing to part ways with AFC Wimbledon. Photo: Pete Norton/Getty Images

Alan Bennett came straight into Cork City's pre-season preparations after agreeing to part ways with AFC Wimbledon. Photo: Pete Norton/Getty Images

Getty Images

Alan Bennett came straight into Cork City's pre-season preparations after agreeing to part ways with AFC Wimbledon. Photo: Pete Norton/Getty Images

Cork City defender Alan Bennett is struggling to contain his excitement ahead of his competitive return to action at Turner's Cross on Friday.

A bumper crowd is anticipated for the Munster derby with Limerick and the former Irish international, who moved home this winter after eight years across the water, cannot wait for the game to come around.

Bennett watched from afar last term as City challenged for the league and drew out attendances that reminded him of the buzz that existed around their successful title charge in 2005. He believes that atmosphere will have a big say in his attempts to pick up a second winner's medal.

"I can't wait, I just can't wait," says Bennett, who appreciated the substantial away support which travelled to Saturday's 1-1 draw in Sligo. "What our fans brought to that game was passion, something I love.

"When you know they are behind you when you walk out, it makes a big difference. The quality on Saturday probably wasn't the highest but when we settle down a bit we'll start to play some football. I'm looking forward to getting back to the Cross and a good packed crowd."

Grips

Bennett came straight into Cork's pre-season preparations after agreeing to part ways with AFC Wimbledon and says he is still getting to grips with life back in the League of Ireland.

He expects that it will be a few weeks before the Leesiders really get into their stride following a build-up where Caulfield juggled his options with a view to integrating new arrivals such as Bennett and Liam Miller.

"That's always the way in any league in any team," says Bennett. "I was talking about it with Mark McNulty (goalkeeper) - he was asking 'who stood out in pre-season for you' and I just said I didn't know much about any of the players because of the way pre-season went and the conditions we were playing in.

"It was chop and change, people playing 40-45 minutes here and there. It will take five or six games to get down into a rhythm and, once we get that, I'm confident we will be okay."

Meanwhile, QPR teenager Reece Grego-Cox continued his excellent week by scoring twice for the club's U-21 side yesterday.

The London-born Irish underage international made his Premier League debut as a late sub in the weekend defeat to Spurs but got the head down to focus on scoring twice in a 3-3 draw with Charlton.

QPR's other goalscorer was the highly rated Ryan Manning, a winter addition from Galway United who was included in the squad for the Spurs encounter.

Irish Independent