Belfast Telegraph

Gormley can cope with weight of expectation, maintains Gray

By Graham Luney

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray believes Joe Gormley can live with the high expectations on his shoulders following his return to the Reds.

The 27-year-old, who netted 122 times in 183 appearances during an earlier golden four-year spell at Solitude, is back in north Belfast and as goal hungry as ever.

In his first competitive game back, the Ardoyne man smashed in a brace as Gray's side thumped Ards 6-3, but the Reds drew a blank at the Coleraine Showgrounds in midweek, losing 2-0.

Cliftonville will aim to return to winning ways at Ballinamallard United today, with the Ferney Park men still smarting from their late loss to Glentoran and 6-2 defeat at Glenavon.

And Gormley will look to don his shooting boots again after being starved of service in the north west.

"You could see the media pressure building on Joe before the season and people making predictions," said Gray, who slammed his players after the Coleraine loss.

"Knowing the character of him, he won't get carried away with the hype. He's a very grounded lad regardless of what his goalscoring record is. He won't be too fazed by what happens one way or the other.

"He has come back from a long injury lay-off and already started scoring. I don't think you can ever say it's behind you because he's still early in his rehab but there has been no recurrence of it or signs of any problems."

On his side's chances of a victory today, Gray added: "We won't get it if we turn out a performance like against Coleraine but that's over to the players now to show that they are hungry to play for me week in, week out."

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