Belfast Telegraph

Pre-season results 'embarrassing' but judge us in October, says Curtis Allen

By Graham Luney

Curtis Allen has admitted Glentoran's pre-season results have been "embarrassing" but he feels fans shouldn't panic just yet.

The striker, who returned from an ankle injury in the 3-0 loss to Amateur League side East Belfast at The Oval on Tuesday, says boss Gary Haveron can steady the ship, but the pressure is already on the Glens chief after a pre-season programme which has included a 2-1 defeat to Dundela and 2-2 draw with Rathfriland Rangers while a young Glentoran side overcame Orangefield Old Boys 5-3.

After finishing ninth in the Danske Bank Premiership last season, Glens fans are hoping the tide will turn and Allen has urged them to remain patient.

"The East Belfast result was embarrassing, it shouldn't happen and does not look good at all but it's important the team learns from it and what matters is the first few league games starting with Ballinamallard United away," said Allen.

"There is a lot of negativity and that's understandable. I had a sleepless night after the game but I believe Gary is the right man to take the club forward and he is working tremendously hard.

"Expectations are high at the club and I feel sorry for Gary as he takes the brunt of the criticism but the team should be judged in September or October.

"We've had a very bad result against East Belfast and people are thinking we have taken about 20 steps back but had we won the game nothing would be said. Of course it doesn't look good but if we win our first few matches it will be forgotten about.

"Sometimes Premiership sides are beaten by lower league clubs in pre-season but there is a big spotlight on the Glens after what happened last season.

"What Gary needs is time and a bit of luck.

"I know the club has spoken to more than 20 players this summer but the recruitment process has proven to be difficult. With the limited finances, the club need to make the most of its resources and when new players come in it could take time for new systems and understandings to develop."

Allen's return to first team action went according to plan but he now needs minutes on the pitch to regain sharpness.

"I've been learning how to jump and run again and you never want to come back too soon," he added.

"The rehab has been intensive but it was great to be back on the pitch. I didn't want to miss all of pre-season and it was important to return before the league starts.

"The important thing was getting through the game without incident and I feel better.

"The plan is to keep testing out the ankle and Saturday is another opportunity to take a step in the right direction."

Glentoran have failed to fire on all cylinders in pre-season and their progress will once again come under fierce scrutiny when champions Linfield arrive at The Oval tomorrow (3pm).

"With more games and training sessions we will get better," added Allen. "I think everyone should stay positive and optimistic.

"A lot of players have been scattered about through holiday or injury and some are lacking sharpness after long spells out.

"Linfield will be a huge test and hopefully it will be a very productive exercise for us."

The curtain-raiser for the new season will be at The Oval next Saturday when the Blues and Coleraine clash in the Charity Shield in aid of Action Mental Health.

Andrew Johnston, NIFL Managing Director, is delighted that Action Mental Health will benefit from gate receipts generated from the game.

He said: "To be able to support such a fantastic charity as Action Mental Health is very important for the NIFL.

"This game will not only be a success on the pitch as both Linfield and Coleraine will want to put in a good performance ahead of the Danske Bank Premiership kick off a week later, but off the pitch the match should raise many thousands of pounds for AMH.

"We are delighted to be able to raise awareness of mental health and the issues it presents, especially within football, and for the NIFL to be able to raise so much money for charity just shows how worthwhile this match is for everyone involved."

Entry to the game will be £8 adult, £5 for 12-16 years-old, U12s enjoy free admission.

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