Belfast Telegraph

Big Two: Mick McDermott ready to let Glentoran players 'loose' at the Oval

Nasseri
Nasseri

By Ian Callender

Mick McDermott is looking forward to his first involvement in the traditional Big Two Boxing Day derby and is excited by Glentoran's current form.

With victory at Carrick Rangers on Saturday and Linfield being held to a draw at home by Crusaders, the Glens may still be in fifth position but are just five points off the top of the crowded Danske Bank Premiership table.

"It's my first Big Two derby as manager but I've been there as a fan some 25 years ago," said McDermott.

"That's 10 in a row unbeaten in the league (which started with a 3-1 win against Carrick at The Oval in October) so we are going into the game in a good place, everyone is healthy and available.

"We haven't been that close to the top in a while, but it's going to be a hard game. I've been lucky enough to play in a few big derbies. The players you send out, you have got to let them play and this will be no different.

"We'll prepare for Linfield the same way as we prepared for Carrick. It's another three points to play for, no difference, just the emotion of the day.

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"We don't have to tell them about it, the players have that already, and as coaches we just deliver the information, set them up in the formation and let them loose."

Glentoran have come out on top in just one of the last 18 top-flight encounters with Linfield, a 2-1 victory in the festive fixture between the clubs at The Oval two years ago.

"We're going into the match at a good time, and as coaches we will prepare for it in the same way as we do every other game, even though we recognise that there will be a lot of emotion involved for the fans," added McDermott.

Star of the show at the Loughshore Hotel Arena on Saturday, and the match-winner for Glentoran, was Manchester-born Iranian Navid Nasseri, and on current form he could make a major impact at The Oval today.

McDermott describes the 23-year-old as a "special player".

He added: "The fans see that. Navid hasn't played much the last few weeks but that wasn't because of his performances, it was the opponents we were playing and the pitches we were playing at.

"We have to make decisions every match but Carrick was perfect for him, and especially when he went into that more natural position in the middle, he did really well. Carrick is always a hard place to come to, it's a tight, soft pitch and you are always glad to get out with three points."

Next up for the Glens is a home clash with Ballymena United on Saturday, while champions Linfield travel to Coleraine.

It's a testing time, but the Glens believe they have a squad that can weather the winter storm.

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