Belfast Telegraph

Beverland admits he and fellow Crusaders star O'Neill don't make Cliftonville's Christmas card list

By Graham Luney

Howard Beverland believes the Danske Bank Premiership title race has been blown wide open and he doesn't expect any festive gifts from Cliftonville at Seaview today.

The former Coleraine defender accepts himself and goalkeeper Sean O'Neill are jut two Crues players who failed to make it on the Reds' fans Christmas card lists.

Beverland came under fire from Cliftonville fans after some comments he made following the Ryan Catney challenge which saw the Solitude midfielder sustain a broken leg, while O'Neill had a pop at some Reds supporters in a BBC documentary.

"I get stick following the Ryan Catney incident and I wouldn't be the most popular player at Cliftonville," admitted Beverland. "I smile at it but I don't think myself and Sean are on their Christmas card list.

"It's water under the bridge but it was an unfortunate incident and I wish him all the best. You don't like to see anyone experience an injury as bad as that, it's a nightmare.

"I hope to see him playing again and we have had many good battles over the years. Cliftonville will be a much better team if Ryan Catney was part of it.

"Five teams are going for the title now and they have squads capable enough to do it. It shows how teams are progressing but even last year there has been a great hype about the league through the media and supporters.

"We have massive games now and in these head to head games there is a lot to lose. Cliftonville have been flying under the radar a bit."

Meanwhile, Reds manager Barry Gray is urging his 'big players' to come to the Boxing Day party.

Cliftonville slumped to only their second defeat in 13 games when they were beaten by a rejuvenated Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday.

"We are still a work in progress," said Gray.

"We were not that bad against Linfield, but we could have done so much more.

"My biggest disappointment was we didn't react when they both their goals - we had no response. If we had of given it the 'welly' at least we could say we gave it a go.

"Our big players didn't turn up at Windsor, which was disappointing. They disappeared and that alarmed me because they get paid not to disappear in big games.

"They didn't purposely disappear, but they certainly didn't do enough at times.

"So I have to ask some serious questions. They now have an opportunity to put it right on Boxing Day."

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