Belfast Telegraph

Tommy Breslin expects new signings without Europe incentive

Cliftonville 2 - Linfield 2

Tommy Breslin says Cliftonville's failure to qualify for Europe will not deter him in the transfer market this summer.

For the first time since 2009, Reds fans will be keeping their passports in the drawer after Saturday's 2-2 draw with Linfield officially ended their chances of securing a Europa League berth.

Twelve months on from celebrating a second consecutive Danske Bank Premiership title, Breslin admits he has some big calls to make in the weeks ahead but is determined to pursue his targets and ensure the Solitude side are revitalised and refreshed for next term.

"Not being in Europe won't stop me going after players - the board might think otherwise, but it won't stop me," he joked.

"In a perverse sort of way, we might actually benefit from not being in Europe.

"Obviously we'd much sooner be there and we're disappointed to miss out but this is an opportunity for us to freshen things up, piece together a more thorough pre-season programme and then come back next year. We have targets that we're interested in signing and we'll also look to the reserves as well because it's clear we need to freshen things up.

"Yes, we've had our injury problems but it's also true that we haven't performed the way that we should have done - individually and as a group - and there's no sense in hoping the issues we've had will just resolve themselves. They need to be addressed and they will be.

"Not qualifying for Europe is a big thing and not something we wanted to contemplate but that's the way it is now.

"We've still got two trophies to show for our efforts this season and, even though there's nothing to play for against Glentoran next Saturday, we'll keep training upbeat during the week and be positive going forward.

"We have big challenges ahead but we'll approach them the right way and look to come back better than we have been this year."

It's arguably Cliftonville's propensity to draw which made the difference in their bid to reach Europe and Saturday's stalemate - which came courtesy of Joe Gormley goals either side of Michael Carvill and Aaron Burns netting for the Blues during an absorbing contest - was their 13th of the season.

Linfield have not been without consistency struggles of their own and, though manager Warren Feeney is similarly keen to start wheeling and dealing over the summer, the former Northern Ireland international is adamant the majority of his transfer activity will be centred on the arrivals suite.

"We want to bring a few in so that we can build on what we have and what we've done," he said.

"I still think this squad is going in the right direction and, rather than building everything up all over again, I'm looking to add to what I've got.

"I believe in the players in that dressing room and I honestly don't think we're that far away. I've a couple [of deals] done but we'll play our cards close to our chest.

"All managers want to add new faces so it will be a battle, but I'm confident in the direction we're heading.

"It's all about adding the right players in certain positions, I wouldn't be looking to rip anything up and get rid of people. This has been a transition year of rebuilding and we need to add to that."

Cliftonville: Cherrie, McGovern, Scannell, McMullan, McDaid, M Donnelly, Knowles, Catney, Gormley, Cosgrove, Bonner. Substitutions: Winchester (M Donnelly, 76 mins), J Donnelly (McMullan, 55 mins), Keke (Catney, 83 mins).

Linfield: Tuffey, Belezika, Hegarty, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Carvill, Burns, M Clarke, Sproule. Substitutions: Ward (Hegarty, 55 mins), R Clarke (Sproule, 64 mins).

Man of the match: Joe Gormley.

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).

Belfast Telegraph


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