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Warren Feeney won't shy away from the challenge at Ards

 

Positive outlook: Warren Feeney is keen to keep Ards up
Positive outlook: Warren Feeney is keen to keep Ards up

By Paul Ferguson

The surprise new manager of Ards insists he will not be fazed by being thrown into a fearsome battle for survival or by the fact that, without playing a Danske Bank Premiership game, he has gone from the league summit to the bottom of the table.

It's a predicament that excites Warren Feeney rather than deflates the former Northern Ireland striker, capped 46 times by his country.

Just over three years ago, Feeney quit as manager of Irish League giants Linfield, leaving them top of the league, for a job as No.2 to John Sheridan with League Two outfit Newport County.

Today, 38-year-old Feeney is back in the Irish League as Colin Nixon's successor and is set to sign a contract until the end of the season.

Ards are currently three points adrift at the foot of the table and a crucial relegation play-off spot, have lost their last six league matches, have won only three times in 29 games and have conceded a whopping 53 goals.

With just nine games to go it appears to be a perilous position, but Feeney, who has a great family tradition with the club as his father Warren Snr and cousins Lee and Cullen all donned the Blue and Red shirt, is determined to steer Ards away from the dreaded drop, just like he did when he was faced with a similar position at Newport after taking over as boss from Sheridan.

"The position Ards are in doesn't faze me at all," said Feeney, who flew into Northern Ireland last night from his family home near Plymouth and is thrilled to be the main man at a club after acting as assistant to Harry Kewell at Crawley Town and Notts County recently.

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"It's a challenge I'm looking forward to tackling. When John Sheridan left Newport a few years ago, I was asked to do a similar role and I was proud to help them avoid relegation from League Two.

"Obviously the last time I was in this league was with Linfield and we were top.

"I know the Blues are a bigger club and have more resources than Ards. However, remember - and with the greatest respect - I played in England for a lot bigger clubs than Linfield so I had to adjust when I came home then and I will do the same now.

"We have good players at Ards - I know all about Johnny Taylor and Craig McClean, while Kym Nelson was at the Glens when I was at Linfield and Michael McLellan is a good east Belfast lad like myself.

"It's going to be tough, we're not just going to go out and win all nine games, I know that.

"But if I can restore confidence, stop the rot of conceding goals and the players start enjoying their football again, then positive results are possible."

New boss Feeney will take Ards training tonight and on Thursday evening before going into Saturday's crucial relegation clash with Newry City at the Bangor Fuels Arena.

Belfast Telegraph

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