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Barry Johnston: Reds will cope with life after Boyce

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Goal rush: Barry Johnston knows Chris Curran can hit the target

Goal rush: Barry Johnston knows Chris Curran can hit the target

Goal rush: Barry Johnston knows Chris Curran can hit the target

Barry Johnston has heard all the talk about goals drying up at Solitude but he's remaining calm.

Any Irish League side would miss the touch, vision and finishing power of Northern Ireland international Liam Boyce but when he's departing a team that has just celebrated back to back title triumphs the impact of his departure could have significant consequences.

While goal machine Joe Gormley will always find the back of the net when presented with a chance he still needs a supply line.

Boyce was a master creator as well as finisher and his departure to Ross County has given the chasing pack fresh hope as they aim to hunt down the Reds.

Shrewd boss Tommy Breslin has been clever in the transfer market this summer by rolling out the welcome mat for Johnny Flynn, Jude Winchester and James Knowles but questions will inevitably be asked over their frontline.

Everyone is thrilled to see Boyce get the break he deserved. Hopefully he will shine at Ross County and though Reds fans shed a tear when he left they recognised he was too good a player for the Irish League.

In fact it could also be argued that Gormley deserves a chance at a higher level.

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But no individual player is ever bigger than the club and it should not be forgotten that the Reds squad is already brimming with talent and experience.

Defensively they are solid, in midfield they are aggressive and inventive in equal measure and there is still plenty of creativity in the squad with Chris Curran, Marty Donnelly, Stephen Garrett and Martin Murray capable of hurting opponents.

Johnston is confident Boyce's departure will not bring the greatest period in Cliftonville's history to an abrupt end.

"Liam's gone now and we just have to get on with the task in hand," said the midfielder.

"There is still plenty of attacking threat in our team and guys like Marty Donnelly and Chris Curran are doing the business. Chris was banging in the goals at the end of the season.

"We have lost Liam but I am excited by the players who have come in and it's great to welcome back James Knowles.

"It's a major boost to everyone having him back in the fold.

"I know Johnny Flynn well from my days of playing against him at Ballymena United and you could see his quality then.

"He's a player I'm sure a lot of top clubs would have been interested in signing but we are delighted he has joined us.

"There is strength in depth which is important and let's not forget the contribution that Ryan Catney is making to the team. 'Cats' continued to be immense for us."

Cliftonville were interested in snapping up Coleraine striker Davy McDaid but Breslin has said: "While we are looking at strikers we are not going to just bring someone in to make up the numbers. Players of the quality we want are hard to find."


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