Belfast Telegraph

Lecky's return gives us a major boost: Jeffrey

Must win: David Jeffrey’s side host Institute today
Must win: David Jeffrey’s side host Institute today

By Stephen Alexander

David Jeffrey believes the return of Adam Lecky can kickstart a revival in Ballymena United's fortunes.

The striker has endured a frustrating campaign, punctuated by injury and suspension, but returned with a hat-trick in the Sky Blues' Toals County Antrim Shield semi-final win over Harland & Wolff Welders in midweek.

"Adam was bitterly disappointed to be sent off against Crusaders in the League Cup, which led to a three-match suspension," said Jeffrey.

"He couldn't apologise enough to the players and staff but no-one gave out to him or criticised him.

"Everyone supported him fully because we understood his frustration that night and we said if he wanted to say thank you, the best way was with performances and he certainly did that against the Welders.

"His work-rate was first class, he never stopped running all night.

"His hold-up play has a wee bit to go but it was most helpful to him and to us that he scored three goals."

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Lecky's return is a timely boost for United, who host a resurgent Institute at the Showgrounds in the Danske Bank Premiership today.

"It's no surprise to me that Sean (Connor) has got them well organised and working very, very hard," said Jeffrey.

"The bounce they have got since Sean's appointment does not surprise me in any way, shape or form.

"By all accounts, Institute, even when they went down to 10 men against Linfield last Saturday, were most impressive.

"They have had some great results in recent weeks like going to Seaview and getting a draw there and there have been one or two other performances where we've had them watched where they have done particularly well.

"We enjoyed the Shield semi-final but now we have to get on with the job of getting ourselves up that league table because this is a big period of the season.

"I don't know what bodies we will have because Declan Carville came off with a knee injury in midweek and Jude Winchester picked up a calf injury, while Ryan Mayse had a groin injury from the previous Saturday so it keeps going on, unfortunately, but we have to go out with a real gritty determination.

"We punched so high last season because all of our players were available and they were all playing to the best of their ability.

"We have had eight or nine players who were the base of the team last season who haven't been available this time.

"There have been times we have been desperately unfortunate - in terms of actual bad performances I can only really think of two or three where we haven't met our own high standards," added Jeffrey.

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