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Crusaders may search for new striker after Owens suffers injury

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders may be forced into the transfer market ahead of the start of the Danske Bank Premiership season next month.

Star striker Jordan Owens had to be withdrawn during the second leg of his side's Champions League's tie against Ludogorets at Seaview on Tuesday evening.

It was later revealed that a pulled hamstring is likely to keep the 29-year-old out for the Crues' opening four league fixtures.

The north Belfast side have already added 18-year-old forward Matthew Donnelly to their panel from Crumlin United but manager Stephen Baxter may look to further bolster his options.

"We will see if we have to bring some reinforcements in to deal with it," Baxter told BBC. We'll see how he is at the weekend. We go to either Slovenia or Azerbaijan next week so we've a lot to think about."

Crusaders will now play either Olimpija Ljubljana or Qarabağ in the Europa League second qualifying round, first away from home next Thursday (July 26) and the return leg at Seaview a week later on August 2.

They are currently adjusting to life without winger Gavin Whyte, who sealed a move to League One side Oxford United for an undisclosed fee earlier this month.

"We brought Ross Clarke into the club and you saw his quality tonight," said Baxter following the 2-0 home defeat to Ludogorets.

"His delivery of the ball into the box, his speed of movement was superb. We've Ross Holden coming back now into the fray, we've Jamie Glackin who can play out there. We've got Michael Carvill, Jordan Forsythe who can play out there. We've got plenty of players.

"You're not going to have a new Gavin Whyte. That player isn't here in Northern Ireland so we'll mature our own, work hard with what we have and keep going."

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