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Big Mac hails boys keeping him on bench

By Graham Luney

Published 15/12/2007

David McAlinden has paid a warm tribute to the two players who are keeping him out of the Cliftonville starting eleven - but he added, "I want back in the team".

The outstanding form of Barry Holland and Declan O'Hara has resulted in McAlinden warming the bench and the former Glenavon skipper has no complaints.

It says a lot for the strength in depth at the north Belfast side that reliable performers such as McAlinden and Liam Fleming are struggling to get game time.

However, the tough tackling centre-back is happy to applaud his team-mates from the sidelines - for now!

"You won't catch me moaning about the place," said McAlinden who has just agreed a new deal at the Reds until the summer of 2010.

" There is healthy competition for places at the club now and for a few weeks I have been on the bench or involved in Reserve team action.

" But Barry and Declan have been outstanding and I've no complaints. As a player all you can do is take a chance when it comes and you cannot argue with four clean sheets on the bounce.

"Barry had to sit out most of last season while myself and Declan got the nod but you cannot expect to be in the team all the time.

"We are still involved in three big competitions and with massive matches coming up and you need to have a big squad.

"At the moment I am fit and ready to step in should the manager want to change things."

The Reds' opponents Glenavon are in desperate need of some festive cheer after losing four consecutive games.

And McAlinden knows his old club could give his side a rough ride at Mourneview Park, even though Eddie Patterson's outfit boast a 100% per cent away record in the Premier League this season.

"Eddie watched them lose to Crusaders during the week but he told us they played well in that game," he added.

"Sometimes you play well but just do not have luck on your side.

"No doubt they will be hungry to get a win but as boring as it sounds, at Cliftonville we can only take one game at a time and focus on winning that game.

" I couldn't tell you who we are playing next week. This will be a tough game but we are where we want to be in the league and the challenge is to maintain that momentum."

Belfast Telegraph

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