Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders won't hurry McGonigle back from pre-season knock

Crusaders v Warrenpoint Tn, Danske Bank Premiership, Seaview, Tonight, 7.45pm

Long game: Jamie McGonigle is waiting on his Crues debut
Long game: Jamie McGonigle is waiting on his Crues debut

By Graham Luney

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter says he can't wait to see his star buy Jamie McGonigle strut his stuff but he won't be rushing the frontman into action.

Baxter will check on the 23-year-old's fitness before considering his inclusion in the squad for tonight's encounter with Warrenpoint Town, which has been switched to Seaview due to technical difficulties with the floodlights at Milltown.

McGonigle finally completed his move from Coleraine to the Crues last week and there could be another new arrival on the Shore Road if the club's pursuit of Dungannon Swifts ace Paul McElroy is successful.

The fans are looking forward to seeing some McGonigle magic, and Baxter hopes he can begin this new chapter in his career with a bang.

"He's scored a lot of goals for a player of his age," said Baxter.

"That's the hallmark of a good centre forward and that's what you pay good money for, to bring that quality to your club.

"I've watched him progress for a few years and he has developed into a strong, fast, quality centre forward, and there's very few of them in Northern Ireland. We are hoping he will have a great career here."

McGonigle has trained with his new team-mates and he will be hungry to get back on the goalscoring trail quickly.

"I have to be guided by (physio) Brian Strain about his selection," added Baxter. "He arrived with a knock from two weeks ago, which was a knee clash and bruising on the bone, but he trained with the team and we will check on his movement.

"We don't want to push him into a game for the sake of it if he's not ready he won't play.

"It's a long season ahead of us and we have a lot of games. We are very pleased he's here, and he will go through all the checks before he plays, but we are looking forward to seeing him in action."

Winger Paul Heatley is excited about the prospect of linking up with speed king McGonigle.

"Jamie is a player of real talent and potential, he's still young and he'll settle into this club fantastically well, the players will make sure of that," said Heatley.

"We are delighted he has joined us and we are looking forward to seeing him in action. But there is already an array of talent here and it's a privilege to be involved with the squad. We'll be pushing on and looking forward to the rest of the season."

Baxter, whose side kicked off their campaign with a 3-0 victory over Carrick Rangers at the weekend, will likely freshen up his side for the Warrenpoint test as the Mournemen look to hit back following their 6-0 opening day loss at Larne.

"You've got to get your preparation right, taking into consideration the timing of the game," he said. "The team will be well prepared and we'll see who is fit.

"We will need to produce a very professional performance because the games are coming thick and fast, and the first week is important as you could be sitting with nine points or no points.

"It's a great challenge to the team. It will be a hard fought game but hopefully we can repeat the performance we put in against Carrick."

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