Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders saving for Rainey day

David Rainey believes Crusaders can keep challenging for major honours now that key performers have penned new deals.

Rainey, who signed a two-year deal in the summer, is encouraged by the news that Jordan Owens, Stephen McBride and David Magowan have signed new contracts.

But the most welcome piece of transfer business emerged when manager Stephen Baxter revealed that skipper Colin Coates would not be leaving.

Despite being hotly pursued by Linfield and Glentoran, the inspirational centre-back has said yes to a new three-year contract that will incorporate a testimonial season in the next campaign.

Rainey wants to see his career out at Crusaders and he’s thrilled the squad is being held together by Baxter, a manager who has proved to be a shrewd operator in the transfer market — both in terms of bringing players in and holding what he has.

Stuart Dallas has been the find of the season, after the Crues spotted his significant potential at Coagh United.

“It’s great news for the players, Stephen Baxter and the club,” said Rainey. “You don’t mind if a player has the opportunity to further his career across the water but we wouldn’t like to see players going to another club in the Irish League.

“We are up there with Linfield and Glentoran challenging for the major honours and we have already proved we are capable of winning the big prizes.

“There is just the consistency factor we need to address but we have an excellent team at Seaview.”

Weather permitting, the Crues will be aiming to pile fresh misery on struggling Portadown at the Shore Road venue today.

“All teams can suffer a dip in form and when you look at the quality Ronnie McFall has at Portadown you would expect them to turn things around,” added Rainey. “I’m expecting a very hard match and although I’ve been carrying a slight injury for a while, I’m getting stronger.”

Belfast Telegraph

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