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Coleraine still have plenty of time to battle their way towards top of the table, insists Kearney


Oran Kearney

Oran Kearney

Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Oran Kearney

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney is refusing to panic after a run of three successive defeats which has left last year's runners-up in the bottom half of the table.

The Bannsiders will be leapfrogged by Dungannon Swifts if that run continues at Stangmore Park tonight but, according to the manager, "that doesn't concern me".

Kearney explained: "This season is not going to be like any other. Do I feel we're out of it? No.

"Do I feel we've a lot of work to do? Yes. Are we talking about being involved in anything this season? No. But we have a massive month ahead where we have to claw and scrape and do whatever it takes to hang on to coattails and remain on the periphery, and that job starts on Friday.

"We're only seven games into a 38-game season, there's a huge amount of points up for play and it's up to us to dust ourselves down and go and grab them."

The boss admits it has been a tough start to the season, but he cites the lack of fit defenders for the concession of 11 goals - only four sides have let in more - by a team with the second best defensive record last season.

"Coming into the season I thought I had too many defenders and was wondering how to keep everyone happy, but last week was the first time we've had a full bench, though in saying that the four unavailable out of a squad of 22 were all centre-halves," said Kearney.

"We have had only two defenders fit for big parts of the season out of eight at the club, but you still have to put the ball in the net," he added, acknowledging the lack of goals and missed chances which have cost them points, albeit in a run of matches against the current top three.

Because of the lack of numbers, the two Aarons, Jarvis and Traynor, were forced back into the action against Linfield last week.

"Both should have been playing for the Under-20s last week to build their rehab, but the 20s are not going to play this side of Christmas and probably January. It's match fitness they need and the only matches we have are first-team matches, so my hand has been forced," he said.

"They were valuable minutes, however, and Traynor, for the length of time he's been out, was fantastic and it will help him moving forward."

Belfast Telegraph