Starlets can flourish under pressure: Eddie Patterson
This evening's Big Two battle with Linfield won't faze Glentoran's young starlets, according to boss Eddie Patterson.
Despite having their pre-season disrupted by injury and player absences – as well as incurring suspensions for Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership opener with Cliftonville – the east Belfast side have enjoyed an encouraging run of form and after holding the champions to a 0-0 draw, Patterson is keen to build on the positive vibes emanating from the changing room.
"We're looking to build on how we ended last season," he explains.
"Those last four or fives games saw us piece together some decent performances and good results, so taking that sort of form with us into this new campaign is something we've been working very hard to do.
"Obviously you lose what momentum you've built up when the summer break comes along, but I've been pleased with how things went in pre-season and we did very well against Cliftonville on Saturday.
"We had a good first-half and limited them to virtually nothing, but fitness levels made a big difference in the second-half.
"The Reds have had two huge European games recently and I think people would be surprised at how much that can help in terms of match fitness and sharpness, especially when you're up against a good team like they were.
"We haven't had the benefit of that, so we're probably playing catch-up with a few clubs, but in terms of our performance at the weekend, I was pleased with what I saw."
Youngsters William Garrett, Stephen McCullough, Kym Nelson and Jordan Stewart all started at the weekend, while Danny McKee came off the bench and they will all feature again this evening.
Glentoran pocketed all three points when they locked horns with David Jeffrey's Linfield for the final time last April and as they prepare to welcome Warren Feeney's Blues to the Oval, Patterson – who is expected to hand a debut to new recruit Barry Holland – says his players are raring to go.
"Youngsters don't know any fear and they just want to play football, it's as simple as that," he adds.
"It doesn't matter if it's Linfield, Warrenpoint, Cliftonville or Portadown – they just want to go out there and play.
"The fixture list has handed us a difficult start in last season's top two teams but the boys won't hide away or shirk any responsibility, they'll go into the game looking to get a good result.
"Having said that, Linfield are another side who have had four European games under their belts so they'll be well ahead of us in terms of fitness, but I'm confident my players will go out, play their football and compete the best that they can."