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Tennent's Irish Cup quarter-final Carrick v Crusaders: Andrew Mitchell has no fears of Crues running into double trouble

By Graham Luney

Published 04/03/2016

Glory hunter: Andrew Mitchell celebrates his goal for Crusaders
in the sixth round victory over Dungannon Swifts
Glory hunter: Andrew Mitchell celebrates his goal for Crusaders in the sixth round victory over Dungannon Swifts

Andrew Mitchell says there's no chance of Crusaders' Irish Cup assault being distracted by the tantalising prospect of securing an historic double.

Crues boss Stephen Baxter has lifted every domestic prize going - including the Setanta Cup - but the Shore Road boys have never celebrated a league and Irish Cup double.

The Hatchetmen were marching towards a double last season but the league title was their number one target and eyes were taken off the ball in the semi-final at Mourneview Park when Glentoran stormed into the decider.

Crusaders won the Irish Cup in 2009 - for the first time in 41 years - but since then they have felt the pain of a few near-misses. Either you're first or you're nothing in the Irish Cup

With Baxter's side in the driving seat and tipped to secure back-to-back titles, the double dream is on but you won't hear it talked about in the dressing room.

Carrick Rangers will arrive at their adopted home tomorrow looking for the win that will leave them only 90 minutes away from an Irish Cup Final.

The Crues have won nothing yet and former Rangers and Northern Ireland Under-21 midfielder Mitchell says only a professional approach will see them grasp silverware.

"Do we want to win the double, yes any player would," says Mitchell. "Any player would want to win both the league title and Irish Cup but it's not something you want to be thinking about.

"We are very grounded and it's all about chalking off the games for us. We cannot afford to get too far ahead of ourselves. It's a case of focus on the next challenge and you have to do that because every game is tough. We had to fight to get a point at Warrenpoint Town last weekend and that's why we keep playing well and focus on the next challenge. We will only put pressure on ourselves as we know the standards we expect from one another.

"The changing room is immense and the boys have the right attitude.

"We are working hard and we'd love to reach the final. In previous years the lads have done superbly well to reach finals and semi-finals but of course you want that winner's medal. As I went away to Manchester City at the age of 13 I never got a chance to see many big Irish Cup games but this year's competition has been great with Rathfriland bringing a big support to Seaview and I got on the scoresheet against Dungannon Swifts."

Baxter will need to adjust his defence with Josh Robinson suspended following his dismissal at Warrenpoint. Mitchell, who joined the Crues in May, is happy to be back on the big stage after a spell on the sidelines.

"No player wants to get injured but I had to work hard and bide my time," added the 23-year-old.

"The gaffer knows what my strengths are and I'm happy to do a job for the team if called upon. We started the season by winning in Europe so it was a dream start for me and hopefully we can finish it off with an Irish Cup win."

Belfast Telegraph

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