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Surgenor calls for Carrick Rangers to earn their keep

By David Mason

Mark Surgenor admits that players are now playing for their future at Carrick Rangers.

Although the team have made a dramatic improvement under the watch of new boss Aaron Callaghan, they are still sitting one off the bottom of the Danske Premiership table - albeit 10 points ahead of troubled Portadown.

They also created a little piece of history recently, having reached the final of the League Cup for the first time - they will face Ballymena United on February 18.

But Surgenor insists points are now a priority and the players must step up to the plate over the hectic festive fixture list, staring with a crunch Boxing Day meeting with Ards at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

"It's a massive match," said the versatile Surgenor. "Forget about the Belfast Big Two, forget about the North Belfast game. For us, this is even a bigger game. The bottom line is that every player is now playing for their future at Carrick."

Surgenor insists the team owes Callaghan a performance following last week's dreadful showing against Cliftonville when they lost 3-0 at home.

"It was our worst performance of the season," he added. "We let ourselves down and we let the manager and supporters down.

"I don't know how we can go from a top drawer performance we produced in the League Cup semi-final again Glenavon to turning in such a slopping showing.

"We had a game plan against Glenavon and we all carried it out to a man. We also had a game plan against Cliftonville, but that went out of the window after about 30 seconds when they took the lead.

"Since Aaron has come in, he has set new standards, but those standards dropped for the first time last week. He goes into great detail about our opponents, producing videos and pdf files. His attention for detail is first class.

"It's now time to regroup. We have to win against Ards. They are one team that we feel can be pulled down into the relegation battle.

"Let's face facts. It will be a battle between ourselves, Ballinamallard and Portadown for the remainder of the campaign, but I feel Ards can be pulled into that group."

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