Manager’s programme notes
Posted : 11th February 2023
Today we return to Premiership action with a visit from League leaders, Cliftonville for what we know is sure to be a tough and formidable challenge.
It’s so tight at the top of the table with incredibly, six teams challenging for the title and the European places, and the drama and tension looks like it’s going to go down to the very last day of a long hard season.
All the teams in the top six can take points off each other and teams in the bottom six have also shown they are capable of taking points off the top six, so there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns over the coming weeks of a hugely demanding season.
We have 12 league games and a BetMcLean cup final remaining in a season that will see us reach 60 competitive fixtures and our aim is to try and win as many of those remaining 13 games as possible, to try and win the two remaining trophies still available to us.
Last week’s Irish cup penalty shoot out defeat was hugely disappointing. We competed strongly over the 120 minutes in a hard fought cup tie against Larne and unfortunately, we lost out in the lottery of the penalty shoot out, as we had done earlier in the season to be eliminated from the Conference League, the SPFL Trust Trophy and the County Antrim Shield.
Jordan Stewart moved on loan to Glenavon until the season end on transfer deadline day. He will hopefully benefit from increased game time and return to full fitness, before rejoining us for pre-season in the summer.
David Walsh has continued his recovery from the recent head injury he sustained and he has complied with all the relevant concussion protocols. Our medical team will continue to monitor and assess his progress.
We were delighted to welcome Ben Hall back to first team action in last week’s game in Larne and he looked very assured on the pitch, when he was brought on from the bench.
Andrew Clarke, Robbie McDaid and Eetu Vertainen will be assessed prior to today’s game, to determine whether they are match ready, after the knocks they have picked up in recent games.
Cameron Palmer was injured in the recent Portadown game but we are hopeful that he could be available to return to the squad today.
Niall Quinn returned to action in the midweek Swifts game and it will be good to have his vast experience available to the squad over the coming weeks.
Stephen Fallon will remain unavailable for quite some time but we remain hopeful that Jimmy Callacher will be close to a return to the squad by the start of next month.
Two of our younger players - Ryan McKay and Liam McStravick are also currently unavailable, due to injuries picked up in Swifts’ games.
It’s a huge derby game today (and on Tuesday) and we will need the patience and the encouragement and backing of all of of our supporters, to help inspire and drive the players on to achieve our targets. Your positive support is always appreciated.