Belfast Telegraph

Kris Lindsay's Dungannon have already proved their strength, says McLaughlin

Clear aim: Paddy McLaughlin wants to get back on track
Clear aim: Paddy McLaughlin wants to get back on track

By Conor McLaughlin

Paddy McLaughlin expects tomorrow's Stangmore Park showdown between Dungannon Swifts and Cliftonville to be a battle of two wounded sides.

Though both teams prevailed in midweek regional obligations - the Reds sank Knockbreda in the County Antrim Shield while Dungannon won their Mid-Ulster Cup duel with Armagh City - the opportunity to return to winning ways in the Danske Bank Premiership will lend additional spice to proceedings, says McLaughlin.

His Cliftonville team slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Linfield last Saturday and, up against a Swifts side that found itself on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline at Coleraine, the Solitude supremo believes both sets of players will be raring to get their respective league campaigns back on track.

"Any time you lose a game, you want to get back onto the pitch to put it right," he explained.

"We were probably unfortunate to get beat by Linfield last week because it was a fairly even game but, credit to them, they did what was needed to get the points.

"We've had a decent start in the league but our two defeats have been in the big home games against Crusaders and Linfield, so we know we still have a bit to go and work to do in order to get to where we want to be.

"First and foremost, we want to bounce back by picking up three points in our next match, but it won't be an easy game because Dungannon have been flying up until recently."

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Prior to last weekend's annihilation at the hands of the Bannsiders, Kris Lindsay's side suffered a three-goal defeat to the Crues but, rather than derailing their campaign, McLaughlin believes those losses will only serve to galvanise the Swifts.

"The results they've had in the opening few weeks of the season show how good a team they are," added the Cliftonville chief.

"I don't think anybody is going to be writing Dungannon off because they lost games at Coleraine and Crusaders. They'll be disappointed with those matches but, like us, they'll be hungry to get back out there and back to winning ways as soon as they possibly can.

"Regardless of their form, Dungannon away is always a difficult game. They play football the way it's supposed to be played on a tight pitch and they like to make life as difficult as they possibly can for you.

"We'll be going down there expecting a really tough game but we're just as hungry as they are - if not even more so - to start winning again."

Having rested Ruaidhri Donnelly, Conor McDermott and Liam Bagnall for Tuesday night's Shield success against Knockbreda, McLaughlin is set to have close to a full panel available for selection, with only Aaron Harkin - struggling with a lengthy knee complaint - and back-up keeper Declan Dunne likely to be on the casualty list.

"You need to have good numbers in the squad to cope with injuries," added the Reds boss.

"We've had a few in the last number of weeks but I'm confident in the ability of whoever is chosen to play."

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