Belfast Telegraph

Ards minus key men for clash with the champions Crusaders

By Keith Bailie

Ards manager Niall Currie is facing an injury crisis ahead of tomorrow's game with Crusaders.

The Red & Blues have been the surprise package in this season's Danske Bank Premiership, winning three of their first five fixtures, but if they are to add the champions to their list of scalps they will have to do it without a handful of first-choice picks.

Captain Emmet Friars, Francis Brennan and Gary Liggett are all injured, while Johnny Taylor, Michael Ruddy and Craig McMillen are are carrying knocks.

While Currie acknowledges that their absences will make life difficult for his side, he has promised the Ards faithful another wholehearted display.

"We're down to the bare bones, which is frustrating as you want to have all your top players available for a game against the champions," he said.

"Emmet Friars has been massive for us and it looks almost certain that he will miss out. His defensive partner Johnny Taylor is also struggling, so we could be missing two centre backs.

"Our left-back Michael Ruddy is also doubtful, he has been struggling for a number of weeks. Then Francis Brennan is still recovering from a broken collarbone and won't be back for another month.

"We could be missing four defenders for a game against the champions, which is far from ideal, but we get on with things."

The good news for Ards is talented attacking midfielder Joe McKinney will return from suspension, while forward Jamie Douglas - who joined on loan from Dungannon Swifts last week - is eligible for his Premiership debut.

If Ards were to pull off a shock at the Bangor Fuels Arena, they would climb to the top of the standings for the second time this season.

Currie said: "We know what to expect from Crusaders. They have quality players in every position.

"They won the division last year and they have strengthened over the summer.

"From my perspective, it's a shame that we have so many players missing against a formidable team, but that's just part of football.

"We might be missing a few big guns but that won't affect our effort levels.

"We will give it everything we have and I think we've already seen this season that we can give top sides problems when our attitude is right."

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