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Warren Feeney: Don’t write off Reds, they’ll be back with a bang in title race

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On alert: Warren Feeney still fears Cliftonville challenge

On alert: Warren Feeney still fears Cliftonville challenge

On alert: Warren Feeney still fears Cliftonville challenge

Warren Feeney says anyone who believes the wheels are coming off the Cliftonville bandwagon are talking nonsense.

The Reds have endured a difficult winter, pocketing only one point out of a possible nine.

Tommy Breslin’s charges also have two cup finals to occupy their minds this month with a County Antrim Shield date with Bangor and Wasp Solutions League Cup battle with Ballymena United on the horizon.

It’s a testing time for the Solitude men and a serious knee injury to Barry Johnston has compounded their misery.

But the champions can never be written off and Linfield boss Feeney expects the north-Belfast side to come roaring back into the title race.

“There’s going to be dips all season and you just have to look at Cliftonville to understand that,” said the former Northern Ireland international.

“People are now asking questions about them but I don’t think their wheels are coming off — they are a fantastic football side. There’s 14 big games left and all I will be worrying about is Linfield Football Club.”

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While the Reds aim to get back on track at Dungannon Swifts today, Linfield need to shake off the disappointment of their loss to Crusaders when they confront Coleraine at Windsor Park.

The result leaves the Crues a point behind Linfield at the top. Feeney is confident the Seaview defeat — their first in the league since the Crues beat them on October 25 at Windsor — will not dent confidence.

“I’ve no problems about lifting these boys, we have been on a fantastic run and laid down a challenge to everyone,” he added.

“There’s no bad eggs in my changing room, they all want to learn and are enthusiastic.

“I’ve not doubts that we’ll bounce back and we are still in a great position, where we want to be. The Coleraine game is a big one and they will come to Windsor with a lot of confidence.

“Yes we have been beat but we are still riding high and full of confidence.

“It’s how we react and I’m confident the boys will react in the right way. I think we showed why we are top of the league at Seaview. Crusaders ran out victors but I saw enough fight in that team to encourage me.”

Centre-back Mark Haughey is unlikely to play against Coleraine as he continues to nurse a calf injury but Ivan Sproule returns to the squad, while Sean Ward and Aaron Burns are close to comebacks.

Elsewhere, Ballymena United will be looking to hit back after their disappointing defeat at Warrenpoint Town when they welcome Glenavon to the Showgrounds.

Striker Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien could make his debut for the visitors who have released Darren Forsyth.

Basement battlers Town are applying pressure on Institute and Dungannon Swifts at the wrong end of the table and will look to make it an uncomfortable afternoon for Glentoran.

Portadown, who have moved to within three points of the Premiership summit, host Institute on Monday evening.


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