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We must keep foot on pedal, warns Cliftonville manager Lyttle

By Stuart McKinley

Published 12/01/2016

Win bonus: Gerard Lyttle eyes a crucial victory
Win bonus: Gerard Lyttle eyes a crucial victory

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle is placing major importance on tonight's Danske Bank Premiership battle with Carrick Rangers as the title race enters a key phase.

Rather than trying to keep things low key, the Reds boss has branded the rearranged clash at Solitude (7.45pm) as a 'must-win game.'

The Reds missed a great chance to heap pressure on league leaders Crusaders when they could only draw with bottom placed Warrenpoint Town on New Year's Day, while the Crues were losing to Linfield.

And after dropping points in a defeat to Glentoran and a draw with their north-Belfast rivals either side of Christmas, Lyttle is determined that they won't pass up another opportunity.

"This is a game that we want to win in order to get closer to Crusaders," said Lyttle.

"If we want to go clear in second place on our own then it is important that we pick up the three points.

"We won't underestimate Carrick, but if we are serious about wanting to challenge for the title and to put real pressure on Crusaders then it is a must-win game.

"We've dropped some points recently and this is a chance for us to get back on track with a run of tough games coming up."

Cliftonville have made an initial approach to Portadown for want-away striker Darren Murray, but have yet to make an offer for the player.

Lyttle wants to bring him to Solitude and will wait until the transfer window closes in three week's time if he has to.

The Reds boss, however, could be doing with some extra firepower as he endures something of a striking crisis.

"The squad is a bit thin at the minute," Lyttle explained.

"David McDaid picked up an injury against Warrenpoint and will be out for another couple of weeks. We signed Daniel Hughes from Warrenpoint and he hurt his ankle in training on the first night.

"That leaves us with only Jay Donnelly up front and we are asking him to do a job on his own up there.

"We need to get goals from somewhere, but we have been creating plenty without scoring."

Carrick will have four new faces competing for places in the team.

Gareth McKeown has joined the club from Glenavon, James Wright has come in from Knockbreda while Danny Wallace and Adam Salley have signed on loan from Linfield.

Belfast Telegraph

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