Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders will not play for a draw, insists Craig McClean

By Graham Luney

Craig McClean has rubbished the suggestion Crusaders will play for a draw in the title showdown against Linfield tomorrow.

The Blues, who trail the league leaders by five points with five games remaining, feel they must win on the Shore Road to keep their title dream alive.

An away victory would mean Stephen Baxter's side would still hold a two-point lead but McClean says the champions always go the victory on their home patch - even against slick European opponents.

"Although we know a draw would not the worst result for us it's not in our nature to play for a draw and it's all about winning the match for us and going eight points clear," said left-back McClean.

"Linfield desperately want to win the match but that approach suits us as we never go out looking for a draw and our attitude, even against European teams at Seaview, it to give it a go.

"It will be a feisty game played in a great atmosphere and with a very high tempo and our aim is simple - to win the game and there's a huge incentive for us to bag the three points.

"There's only four games left after this one so a win would leave us in a fantastic position."

Crusaders' double dream was ended by the Irish Cup semi-final defeat to Glenavon on Friday night but there is little time to dwell on what might have been with Linfield paying them a visit.

"We've had a chat about it, analysed where we went wrong and must learn from our mistakes," added McClean.

"But we've no time to dwell on it.

Yes we have played a lot of matches, five games in 13 days but I don't buy into the tiredness theory.

"You won't hear me making excuses.

"We are playing in big matches and that's what you want. We will dust ourselves down and get ready for this one."

Crusaders will check on the fitness of Matthew Snoddy and Andrew Mitchell before finalising a starting 11.

"There has been some illness and injury but you expect that and must deal with it," added McClean.

"Whenever you are at the top of the league and competing in semi-finals you will encounter these problems.

"We have had a bit more time to prepare for this Linfield game and come kick-off we will be raring to go and hungry to do the job. Certainly, everyone in the squad wants to be involved."

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