Belfast Telegraph

Mitchell bids to play his way into Baxter's thoughts

By Graham Luney

Andy Mitchell hopes his two goal blast against Larne in the County Antrim Shield will secure him more game time in the Premiership as Crusaders keep up the hunt for a third consecutive league title.

The Crues, who host Ballinamallard United today, have set the pace and are out in front, five points ahead of Linfield though the Blues have a game in hand.

Left-back Mitchell admits competition for places at Seaview is fierce but he's hungry to be part of another football fairytale.

"After the Copenhagen game I picked up a knee injury in pre-season and there was a build up of liquid in my knee so I needed time to recover but I'm back playing again and it was great to get 90 minutes and the two goals against Larne," said the 24-year-old.

"I'm feeling sharper all the time and the manager, who has a big squad now, needs to know he has players who can come in and do a job for the team.

"I've been biding my time and you never know who will be selected.

"I'm going to work hard in training and it's up to the manager who he selects.

"I don't think we have hit top gear yet and all of us know we have to stay focused as teams will keep raising their games against us. Gavin Whyte has been in superb form and the competition for places keeps the players hungry.

"The gaffer (Stephen Baxter) has brought in experienced players like Michael Gault, Howard Beverland, David Cushley and Michael Dougherty and they are superb on and off the pitch, great guys to have in the squad and the young players can learn a lot from them.

"They have been around the league for some time and know what is required. It's a fiercely competitive league and you know every side can really test you. Ballinamallard had a bumpy start but I think they were unlucky in a few matches and they are fired up again after winning two games.

"We've got to match the other sides for work-rate and hopefully our ability will be enough to have the edge. We want to keep the momentum going and remain unbeaten. If we can keep winning our confidence will be high."

Crusaders will today pay tribute to the club's former vice-president, chairman and player Jim Semple whose funeral was held yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph


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