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Cliftonville must make Glenavon draw the turning point in the season, says Paddy McLaughlin

Reds boss hoping his men have turned corner

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Turning point: Paddy McLaughlin is hoping the only way is up for Cliftonville

Turning point: Paddy McLaughlin is hoping the only way is up for Cliftonville

�INPHO/Jonathan Porter

Turning point: Paddy McLaughlin is hoping the only way is up for Cliftonville

Paddy McLaughlin is challenging his Cliftonville players to make their first away point of the season the spark that ignites the rest of their campaign.

The Solitude boss is also desperately hoping that consistency of selection will trigger consistency of results - if he can ever put his strongest team on the pitch.

Until Monday night's 1-1 draw at Glenavon, every point the Reds had gained had come at Solitude, with the only blip on the artificial home turf coming when they were royally upstaged in a 4-0 defeat to Ballymena United.

With a home clash against Coleraine today their last action of the year - the Boxing Day hosting of Crusaders and trips to Glentoran and Dungannon Swifts have been postponed due to incoming coronavirus restrictions - it could be crucial if they are to close the current eight-point gap to their local rivals in third place.

"We know how quickly football can change. It can change in the blink of an eye - both in a good way and a bad way," said McLaughlin.

"Hopefully we could be looking back in a couple of weeks' time saying that the point at Glenavon was a turning point for us."

A spate of injuries has had a major impact on the Cliftonville squad - and therefore results. Often it has been a case of one dropping out as another returns, while Levi Ives is out long-term and talisman Joe Gormley has had to limit his minutes from the bench.

"I've never seen an injury record like it so early in the season," said McLaughlin.

"You can't make excuses and you can't feel sorry for yourself.

"Once we get these boys back from injury and once we get that consistency about our individual performance, I think we'll be back up and running again and hopefully it starts on Saturday."

Having Gormley and Monday night's goalscorer Daire O'Connor ready to spring from the bench, however, is a card many managers would love to have up their sleeve.

Gormley looks set for more time as a substitute as he battles injury.

"It's good to have options on the bench. It's unfortunate for Joe Gormley, he's been plagued with a back injury right through the summer and it's carried into the season," McLaughlin revealed.

"It's only fair, we can't keep forcing him to take painkillers and putting him through the pain barrier - which he is prepared to do, he's pushing his body to the limit every week for us.

"It's good to have that in reserve."

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney, meanwhile, is backing his players to back-up their return to winning ways after seeing off Warrenpoint last week with a 92nd minute winning goal.

"The players were hurting these last few weeks (they lost four games in a row) but they don't become bad players overnight," said Kearney.

"Every bounce of the ball seemed to go against us but hopefully the win stems the flow and gets us back on track.

"What pleased me as much as the result was the first half-hour which was exceptional. We were relentless - patient but urgent."

Belfast Telegraph


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