For years Crusaders’ defensive partnership of David Magowan-Colin Coates was considered the best centre-back pairing in the Irish League.
But the summer arrival of Paul Leeman gave the Glentoran legend an opportunity to nail down a starting role at Seaview and he has grasped it with both hands.
Leeman’s experience and composed defending has shone like a beacon but it has been a frustrating time for Magowan who has been relegated to the bench.
Manager Stephen Baxter knows that three into two doesn’t go, but at least Leeman and Coates know that if their performance level drops there is a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings.
“He’s (Leeman) a top class player and he has been for many years,” said Baxter.
“We fell lucky there in getting Paul to come on the back of how many clubs that wanted to sign him. We feel very honoured that he chose us. He’s a leader, he knows the game and we need that.
“When you’ve got someone like David Magowan who, arguably, is the best centre-half in the country, it’s great to have players of that capacity — Michael Halliday, David Rainey and Ryan McCann — they are good players and will all be needed when injuries come.”
Crusaders host Coleraine this evening before entertaining Donegal Celtic on Monday night in a fixture televised live by Sky Sports.