Ward isn’t derailed from Glentoran's Euro target
Glsntoran's stand-in captain Sean Ward has set Europa League qualification as the target for the Oval club’s youngsters.
And the 28-year-old won’t allow the east Belfast side’s turbulent off-field circumstances to be used as an excuse to underachieving.
Since the squad stayed away from training at the end of November, after not receiving wages for two months, they have played eight games, but won only two of them — and one of those was against a nine-man Portadown team.
That run of form has seen Eddie Patterson’s men slip to sixth place in the league and a top half finish won’t be enough to satisfy Ward’s hunger for success.
“The top six is our target, but it disappoints me that our sights are set as low as that,” said Ward, who will lead the team into battle with Glenavon at the Oval tonight.
“Last season was the first since I came into the first team that we haven’t qualified for Europe and I didn’t enjoy coming back for pre-season without that to look forward to — particularly after we’d got through a round in the Europa League the year before.
“That has to be our target this season and when you look at the table it’s still within our capabilities.”
The Glens current run of form is in contrast to the start of the season when they were undefeated in their opening 11 games in all competitions, a run that lasted until the beginning of October.
With a large number of young players being blended into the team and injuries to senior players taking a grip — as well as the financial situation off the field being a distraction — it’s not surprise that a bumpy patch has come.
“We have been inconsistent after having such a good start to the season, but with that has come a lowering in our expectation level,” said Ward.
“At Glentoran you have to deal with expectation and usually that is to be at the top of the league challenging..”
Elsewhere this evening Ballinamallard United will look to tighten their grip on fourth place in the table when they face Portadown — who themselves are fighting for a place in the top six.
The Ports are nine points behind the Mallards with a game in hand and fourth place has been set as a target by the Shamrock Park side.
Ballymena United harbour hopes of a top six finish again after putting together a three-match unbeaten run before last Saturday’s defeat to Crusaders.