Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 November 2015

Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin backs Conor Devlin to deliver

By Graham Luney

Published 04/10/2013

In the spotlight: Conor Devlin is still Cliftonville number one
In the spotlight: Conor Devlin is still Cliftonville number one

Tommy Breslin says he has no fears Conor Devlin will hit back and show his quality after a few uncharacteristic blunders.

Shot-stopper Devlin was feeling deflated after making mistakes in the defeat to Glenavon and draw with Dungannon Swifts.

The former Manchester United starlet palmed the ball into Andy McGrory's path following Gareth McKeown's free-kick and a week later he fumbled a Matt Hazley free-kick, allowing Darren Boyce to pounce.

Up next for Devlin and co. is a north-Belfast derby against Crusaders at Solitude and on the same day England boss Roy Hodgson said he was keeping faith with under-fire Manchester City stopper Joe Hart, Breslin backed his number one to show his true colours again.

"I've had a chat with Conor and we all understand that young players will have moments like this," said the Solitude supremo.

"Nobody doubts his talent here. We could all point the finger at our outfield players who haven't been taking their chances, even in a one-on-one situation.

"The problem with goalkeepers is that their mistakes get highlighted more but he is working very hard in training and I've no doubt he'll move on from this.

"Conor has saved us on countless occasions by producing fantastic saves and experiences like this, when you do make mistakes, give you an opportunity to learn from and be stronger afterwards. It's just a blip he's experienced, but collectively we have not been on top form."

Marc Smyth is unlikely to feature against the Crues as he's nursing a knee injury but Jamie McGovern, who was involved in a nasty collision at Stangmore Park, is hopeful of resuming his centre-back role.

Crusaders are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions – the kind of form you need to be in when faced with an attack spearheaded by Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley.

"I think we are just feeling a bit frustrated at the moment that things are not clicking," said Breslin. "Maybe we are forcing things a bit when we should be patient and clever. We have had to chop and change some things because of injuries.

"A few boys haven't been 100% fit but a consistent team selection would help us.

"All the teams are strong and it will still take a long time for things to settle down."

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