Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville boss to ring changes for Knockbreda clash

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin
Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin

By Conor McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin says the effects of a bruising weekend encounter with Linfield and his fringe players' hunger for game time will see him ring the changes for tonight's County Antrim Shield tie with Knockbreda.

The Reds nursed a couple of key men through Saturday's showdown with the Blues and lost Liam Bagnall to a nasty facial injury in the second half and, keen to avoid any additional fitness risks, McLaughlin will turn to those members of his squad whose involvement has been limited in the opening weeks of the season.

"You look at our bench and there are a lot of boys on there dying to play and who deserve a chance to get out on the pitch," he explained.

"We've had one or two niggles and injuries that we've had to deal with and you also don't want to be flogging the same players week after week, so we'll make some changes."

Thomas Maguire and Ronan Wilson both impressed in substitute appearances on Saturday and Ronan Doherty is likely to be available again, with Seanna Foster, Joe Gorman and Stephen Garrett pushing for starting berths against a Knockbreda outfit sat rock bottom of the Bluefin Sport Championship.

"It's a game we're expected to win and whatever team we put out, we'll be trying to put on a good performance and make sure we take our place in the next round," added McLaughlin.

"Players will want to make an impression and give me something to think about."

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Awaiting the winners of the Solitude contest are either Linfield or East Belfast, who do battle in their own first round tie at Windsor Park tomorrow night.

Elsewhere, Shield holders Crusaders are also likely to make a plethora of changes when they welcome Amateur League outfit Sirocco Works to Seaview. Carrick Rangers - who were shocked by Premier Intermediate League side Bangor in the BetMcLean League Cup just a fortnight ago - will bid to avoid another upset when they take on Harland & Wolff Welders.

Larne are hot favourites to make light work of PSNI at Inver Park, while the only all-Championship clash sees Ards tackling Queen's University at the Bangor Fuels Arena.

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