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Call for cool heads in Boxing Day battle

By Stuart McKinley

Published 26/12/2015

Big game: Alan Kernaghan is relishing his first Boxing Day derby
Big game: Alan Kernaghan is relishing his first Boxing Day derby

There was no white Christmas in east Belfast, but Alan Kernaghan wants there to be ice at The Oval this afternoon. The Glentoran manager is calling for cool heads among his players as he approaches not only his first Boxing Day battle with Linfield, but this will also be his Big Two debut, having been installed just a few weeks after David Healy took the reins at Windsor Park.

Kernaghan saw his team reduced to nine men and then 10 in his first two games in charge and he is well aware that he will need everyone to stay on the pitch if the Glens are to make amends for last season's 2-1 defeat.

This won't, however, be Kernaghan's first taste of a Glens v Blues tussle, although he will be taking up a very different position to his only previous experience and he has had an insight into the passion that will be on display today.

"I haven't needed to ask too many questions to the people around the club about what this game means. I already know," said Kernaghan.

"I was at the game when Glentoran played at Windsor Park earlier in the season.

"I paid in along with the other fans and sat at the Glentoran end.

"I got an idea of what the atmosphere was about - and it was fervent.

"It was a competitive game between two teams who were giving their all and that is what I want to see again.

"We need players with fire in their bellies and ice in their veins - that's the best way for us to approach it."

Kernaghan knows that the local bragging rights are just as big a prize for the fans on derby day as anything else.

He does, however, want the players to keep their focus simple and go for the three points.

"It would mean a lot to me to win this game," said Kernaghan.

"It would take us a step further towards where we want to be in the league and it would help our progress.

"We have to look at things in relative terms. There are three points on offer and while there will be passion on the pitch that is what we have to keep our minds on."

The Glens will be without captain Stephen McAlorum for their games over the festive period as he has picked up a knee injury.

"Stephen is a big miss, but other players have come into the team over the last few weeks and really stepped up to the mark," said Kernaghan.

Meanwhile, Kernagahan confirmed that Glentoran have spoken to Swindon Town about resigning winger Jordan Stewart, who left The Oval for the League One outfit in August.

Stewart has struggled to settle in Wiltshire and has played just one first team game since his move.

The Glens are understood to be looking into Fifa rules which, although permitting a player to be registered with three clubs during a season, dictate that they can only play for two.

With Stewart moving back to the club that he left rather than joining a third club the rules have to be clarified before the move is tied up.

"Jordan would be a good addition to our squad and he plays in an area that I would like to strengthen," said Kernaghan.

Belfast Telegraph

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