Belfast Telegraph

Warren Feeney fights back: Linfield boss won’t excuse shock cup exit as the pressure piles on

By Stuart McKinley

Devastated, disappointed and defeated, Warren Feeney had two choices when he arrived home after Linfield’s shock WASP Solutions League Cup exit at the hands of Ballyclare Comrades on Monday night.

Either go to bed, bury his head underneath the pillow and hope that when he woke up the humbling at the hands of a Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 side was just a dream, or try to get some sleep and wake up determined to come out fighting.

Anyone who knows Feeney the player will be well aware that Feeney the manager would go for option two.

Lost causes didn’t exist when Feeney was battling up front for Northern Ireland. The same attributes will come out in him as boss of the Blues.

And that’s why first thing yesterday, he was on the phone trying to find players of the required standard to help deliver silverware to Windsor Park — not fall at the first hurdle against a team from a lower division.

Already no fewer than seven new players have arrived at Linfield since Feeney succeeded David Jeffrey in May.

With nine leaving and early-season injuries to key players taking a grip, Feeney has just a few days to bolster his squad.

“We were nowhere near good enough, but I will take a positive out of the negative that I found out one or two things about a few people,” declared Feeney after the humbling at Dixon Park.

“That’s my honest opinion of the game — we didn’t deserve anything from it.

“You’ve got to take chances when you get them, be ruthless.

“We didn’t, particularly in the first half we should have scored, then as the game went on we lost concentration, huffed and puffed and didn’t deserve anything out of the game.

“My positive is that I found out one or two things about a couple of players.

“I need people and I need bodies in, but it’s not about just filling the gap, it’s about getting quality in and it’s something I’ll be looking at in the next few days.”

Feeney made eight changes to the team for the ill-fated trip to Ballyclare. If he can’t add to the squad before next Monday some of the youngsters who were given their chance may be needed in the coming weeks as the spine of the team strains under the pressure of injuries.

Sean Ward will be missing for a few weeks, Jamie Mulgrew won’t play this weekend and in attack Peter Thompson has joined Andy Waterworth on the sidelines.

“I am hoping to have maybe a couple of them back in the next 10 days,” said Feeney.

“Sean Ward is going to be a lot longer, Ross Glendinning as well.

“Peter Thompson has broken a bone in his hand and he will be a few weeks as well.

“It’s hard to play people twice in 48 hours. At the end of the day my priority is the league, but I had to play three of the back four from Saturday and if one of them gets injured I’m back to square one with the injuries we’ve got at the moment.”

Add to that the fact that Feeney’s first five games as boss have all been away from home and it makes a tough job even more difficult.

The good news is that the newly relaid surface at Windsor Park will be ready to host matches again within a couple of weeks.

First though comes a trip to Dungannon Swifts on Saturday followed by a huge contest, away to defending champions Cliftonville.

“I’ve just go to look forward to the game on Saturday as quickly as possible,” said Feeney.

“It’s hard game after game away from home. No matter what anyone says, they’ve not been away games that are only 10 or 15 minutes away, every one has been 45 minutes to an hour, so it is hard.

“I know my focus, that’s us out of one cup and we’ve got to concentrate on the other three.

“The league is the one and the next two games coming up are very important.”

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