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Whitey Anderson says Mallards now have perfect balance

By Stuart McKinley

Whitey Anderson has "moved on" from losing captain Mark Stafford and midfield ace David Kee to Linfield and he believes that his summer transfer activity will help Ballinamallard United fans do the same.

The Blues finally got their men when long-term targets Stafford and Kee signed in May, leaving Anderson with the difficult task of filling two rather large gaps.

Emmet Friars and Shane McCabe will be asked to plug the holes and with goalkeeper Alvin Rouse returning after spending the last two seasons with Dungannon Swifts, the Mallards unit remains strong.

"We have lost three good and influential players - Stuart Hutchinson could have been one of the best midfield players in the league had it not been for injuries," said Anderson.

"We've moved on from that and got on with the business of bringing players in and with Alvin Rouse, Emmet Friars and Shane McCabe signing, we have three experienced players who will give us a solid spine."

While the focus has been on the return of Fermanagh-born McCabe to Ferney Park after more than a decade, having played for Dungannon Swifts, Glentoran and Portadown in between two spells at Glenavon, Anderson sees the re-signing of Rouse as key - particularly as their defensive record since he left has been poor to say the least.

"When we had Alvin before I thought he lost his hunger a bit in the second year - but he never lost his love for a club that looked after him very well," said Anderson.

"He's come back and that hunger is back too. He wants to prove that he is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and I am happy to see that.

"As well as the experienced players we have brought in, some younger lads have signed as well and I think that we have got the balance right in terms of youth and experience."

The question that will be asked of the Mallards as they prepared for a fourth season in Premiership football is whether they can repeat the performance from their first season in the top flight when they confounded all the doubters by finishing fifth in the league.

Anderson isn't placing any unnecessary pressure on his players by making bold statements, but he does have his sights set on making history.

"We are the same as everyone else in that we want to finish as high as possible," said Anderson.

"People say there are really three leagues of four, or maybe two of six, with only a small number of teams capable of winning the league.

"I think with the new system where there is a play-off for Europe, with seventh place getting into that, that is the target we must set for ourselves.

"We'll be looking to get into the latter stages of the cup competitions too - that's another challenge for us.

"Last season we got to our first senior semi-final and we were disappointed not to have gone further.

"I would love to take Ballinamallard to their first final because I think it would be a very special occasion for the club and the area."

b'mallard utd

Manager: Whitey Anderson

Captain: Stephen Feeney

Key Man: Alvin Rouse

Big arrival: Shane McCabe

Big loss: Mark Stafford

Last season: Ninth in the Premiership and Irish Cup fifth round

Ins: Emmet Friars (Crusaders, loan), Robbie Hume (Institute), Adam Leckey (Dergview), Shane McCabe (free agent), Michael McCrudden (Institute), Aaron Patterson (Loughgall), Alvin Rouse (Dungannon Swifts).

Outs: Stuart Hutchinson, David Kee and Mark Stafford (both Linfield)

Verdict: Will do well to improve on last season's ninth place

Belfast Telegraph


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