Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson remains focused on top-half finish
Glentoran may be within touching distance of breaking into the top four, but manager Eddie Patterson is still focusing on securing a top-half finish.
Even though the Glens have now won five of their last six league games, Patterson is still reluctant to talk about potential European qualification.
Patterson said: "At the start of the season we set a target of reaching the top six come the split and we're not going to change it until it's confirmed that we've qualified for the top half of the table.
"If we achieve that then perhaps we will sit the boys down, re-evaluate our situation and set a new target.
"Perhaps if we're fourth or fifth after the split that new target will be a European place, but that's a long way off. If that can be done, then well and good, but I'm not going to talk about Europe until after the split."
Although Glentoran have won their last three games in a routine manner, Patterson believes his young players are far from the finished product.
"When we turn up and our attitude is right, we can play some good football and create some decent chances," he said.
"In our last three games we've scored 11 and conceded just one, so it goes to show when we work hard we're a decent team. We've still got a lack of experience and with inexperience comes inconsistency.
"If you look at guys like Danny McKee, I feel there is a lot to come from him, but he has to improve aspects of his game, such as his awareness and his hold-up play.
"And that's exactly the same for Stevie Gordon, exactly the same for Willie Garret, exactly the same for Stevie McCullough, exactly the same for Jordan Stewart, exactly the same for Kym Nelson.
"The more games they play the more experience they will get, and the better players they will become.
"They're learning all the time and if we can keep them together at the club, then Glentoran will be able to provide a massive challenge in a couple of seasons."
While Cliftonville, Crusaders and Linfield have all been busy during the January transfer window, Glentoran are yet to make a move.
Manager Patterson says he would like to bring in some experienced figures, but only if the right players come along.
"We would like to bring in some new faces - players with a little bit more experience, perhaps in their mid-to-late 20s - whether or not that materialises, I don't know.
"If not, then there will certainly be new faces brought on board during the summer in preparation for next season.
"If we want to push on then we would need a couple of experienced players in, but if that can't be done we will persevere with what we've got."
Weather permitting, Glentoran will face league leaders Crusaders at The Oval today. The Glens have only defeated the Crues once in their last 13 league duels.
Patterson said: "It's a massive game for us. Our target is still a place in the top six come the split and at the moment we're on track for that.
"These are the kind of games I want to see my players respond to, particularly as we've a poor record against Crusaders over the three years since I came to the club."