Cliftonville’s George McMullan believes today’s IRN-BRU League Cup final against Crusaders at Windsor Park will be won and lost in midfield.
McMullan knows the midfield battle will be a ferocious one as Reds duo Barry Johnston and Ryan Catney wrestle with Declan Caddell and Chris Morrow.
“The games between us have been close and you always hope your strikers can come to the fore,” said the right-back.
“We have got (Liam) Boycey and Joe (Gormley) who have been outstanding all year while big (Jordan) Owens and (Timmy) Adamson are also a big threat but the key battle for me will be in the centre of the park — who gets on top in midfield.
“If you can win the midfield battle, your team should come out on top.”
Cliftonville and Crusaders used to lie in the shadow of the traditional Big Two — Linfield and Glentoran — but it seems the wind of change has struck the Irish League.
The pride of north Belfast are now the pride of the Irish League and should be good entertainment value on Saturday evening television (Sky Sports, 5.30pm).
“Nothing fazes us so the cameras won’t,” added McMullan.
“The players, including the younger ones, have been outstanding for us all season and their quality speaks for itself.
“Hopefully we can carry that form into the final. It’s all about getting your hands on that trophy.
“The north Belfast derbies have taken on a new lease of life in recent seasons.
“In my early days at the club you looked forward to the Linfield and Glentoran games but now the players and fans look forward to this one and it being a cup final on television gives it added spice.”