Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Crusaders' Ryan desperate for extra match

Ryan McCann isn’t adding his voice to the ever increasing chorus of managers complaining there are too many matches.

Indeed, the Crusaders midfielder is setting out tonight with the intention of adding another fixture to the calendar.

McCann is well aware a heavy schedule of matches usually means playing for a successful team and that’s his thinking as the Crues look to see off Ballymena United at Solitude tonight and make the final of the County Antrim Shield for the third time in five years.

“It’s tough playing so many midweek games and it’s hard to be at your best all the time, but if you ask players what they’d rather be doing there is no doubt that we’d prefer to be playing matches than training,” said McCann.

“Players want to play and there is no problem for us getting up for matches.

“We have played a lot, but it’s not a problem, we just keep on going and we’ve a chance to get to a final, so we’ll definitely be up for this one.”

McCann left Lisburn Distillery in the wake of Paul Kirk’s sacking with the idea of adding to the medal collection he started while with Linfield.

The last of those came, ironically, against the Crues in a County Antrim Shield final in 2005 and leading the club to its first triumph in the competition since 1992 is his goal now.

“Winning trophies was the motivation in me signing for Crusaders, because I think it’s a club that is on the up and that can achieve success with the squad that we have,” said McCann.

“My last final with Linfield was against Crusaders and that’s a long time ago now.

“I want to get back to another final and it would be nice to win the Shield again.

“Crusaders have come a long way since that final when I played against them and we’re hungry to start putting trophies on the table now.”

Thoughts of getting his hands on silverware and a possible date with the Blues — who meet Cliftonville in the second semi-final tomorrow night — can’t be anticipated too keenly just yet as McCann is wary of Ballymena’s recent form, which has seen them lose just twice in the last seven outings.

And one of those was against Linfield, just as the reinvigorated Blues were getting into some kind of form again.

“There’s no doubt that this is going to be a tough game because Ballymena have been getting a few decent results,” said McCann.

“They are a big, physical side and having played at Solitude on Saturday we know that the pitch is quite heavy.

“We’ll have to play well, but we know we are capable of it.”

e TONIGHT’S game has a 7.30pm kick-off and will be played to a finish.

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