Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Joe McCready is out to seal a permanent starting spot for league-leading Coleraine

Can he take advantage of Eoin Bradley's injury to steal the place in the side?

By Gareth Hanna

Coleraine forward Joe McCready is out to prove he's worthy of a starting spot - and not just when injury strikes.

The 27 year-old has deputised for the injured Eoin Bradley in the last two outings and netted his first Premiership goal for the club on Saturday, a second half winner to sneak past Cliftonville 2-1.

As he admits himself, it wasn't the most stunning of goals but a few more just like that and Bradley's place in the line-up could be under threat, even when the ex-Glenavon man returns from his knee ligament injury that is expected to sideline him for around two months.

"It was just a ricochet and I was in the right place at the right time," said McCready, reflecting on his Solitude strike. "Jamie (McGonigle) was hustling the centre-half and I was there to tap it in with a toe-poke. I'll take those every week.

"We're struggling injury-wise," he continued. "It's been a strange one. We're down to the bare bones at the minute but Oran (Kearney - manager) keeps pumping it into us that we've a squad there for a reason. Everybody's fighting for a jersey - as soon as they come on they have a chance to keep it. That's what I'm trying to do now myself as well."

If McCready manages to nail down that spot, he will have formed a productive partnership with 21 year-old Jamie McGonigle - a player McCready admires.

"He nags and nags you the whole game but he's quality," laughed the former Institute forward. "He scored 20 goals last season and he's not in the Northern Ireland Under 21 squad for nothing. He's a quality player and I'm learning off him, even if I am six years older than him."

The Bannsiders had to defend from almost the entirety of the second half to see out their narrow win over the Reds and McCready reckons the three points were just reward for a top performance from the club's vociferous supporters.

"I was biting my nails down there the last 15 minutes," he smiled. "I didn't know what to do - my heart was pumping.  Going down there to the fans at the end of the match -it was an unbelievable feeling.

"They were making some noise down there from start to finish. (Scoring the winner) is one of the best feelings I've had since I came here so I'm delighted."

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