Braidmen must defy injuries and climb table: Ervin
Skipper Jim Ervin insists it's vital that Ballymena United put the brakes on a horrible slide down the Danske Bank Premiership table.
The Sky Blues haven't managed to win in the league since beating Cliftonville at the end of September, which has resulted in David Jeffrey's boys slipping out of the top six.
Apart from a penalty shoot-out win against Crusaders in the County Antrim Shield, United have now gone seven games without a positive result.
Although Ervin is reluctant to make excuses, he does admit that the queue for the treatment table hasn't helped matters.
"We have been badly hit by injuries, but we are not going to use that as a get-out clause," he said. "When you start looking for excuses, that's when things go totally wrong.
"In saying that, I think that any team not having 11 first-team players available would struggle. I don't care what team, whether it be Linfield, Glentoran, Crusaders or Cliftonville, with so many missing it's bound to have an effect.
"But it's a squad game, we have to deal with things like that. That's why we can't use it as an excuse."
United are coming off probably their worst performance of the season against Larne last weekend, so Ervin believes they have no better incentive to put things right against Carrick Rangers at the Showgrounds.
"They are always difficult to break down," added Ervin. "Carrick are well organised, quite physical and strong. Niall Currie always has his teams well drilled.
"So, we'll expect the same again. It's up to us to stand up to it and get our own game in order.
"We must try to do the basics right, something that we didn't do against Larne. We've already put that performance in the bin. We can't afford to dwell, it was one to forget. We have to move on and now we look forward to the Carrick Rangers game.
"Win or lose, you can't afford to let emotions become too high or low. There is nothing you can do about it afterwards. You've just got to look forward to the next game. We have to put things right.
"Yes, our results have not been good, but when you look at the list of fixtures that we have faced, Crusaders three times - two of those went into extra-time and one was decided on penalties -away to Linfield, away to Glentoran and then home to Larne, they have been big fixtures, but in saying that every game in this league is a big fixture because it is so competitive. There is nothing easy.
"It's going to be difficult to get up into the top six because there are so many teams now capable of making that step up. It's one of the most competitive leagues that I can remember.
"We've just got to take each game as it comes. There is no point in looking at fixtures further down the line, because there is nothing easy."