Belfast Telegraph

Irish League players are used to busy winters, says Owens

By Graham Luney

Crusaders striker Jordan Owens says he understands Linfield manager David Healy's frustration regarding the packed festive fixture list but he feels the players are well used to the rough and tumble of the winter battles.

The Crues will be among the busier clubs in local football's top flight in the coming months after making it to the semi-finals of the IRN-BRU Cup and BetMcLean League Cup as well as the County Antrim Shield decider against Ballymena United.

With the Tennent's Irish Cup fifth round draw having taken place today, signalling the entrance of the big boys, the knockout competitions will need to be included in a congested league programme with the cold weather threatening to cause further havoc.

Four of Saturday's six scheduled Premiership games fell victim to the cold snap and tonight's League Cup semi-finals between the Crues and Dungannon as well as Ballymena United and Cliftonville have been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 16.

Healy hit out at the "mad" festive fixture list, claiming that players will be "pummelled" by the heavy schedule and Owens said: "It is a demanding schedule for the players who have to work and when you've got matches coming thick and fast you get injuries and suspensions.

"That's why you hope you've got a good enough squad to deal with that. It can be challenging for the teams but the players have been doing it for years and they know what to expect. It's the same for all the teams, it's a very busy period and from our perspective we are confident we can keep our good form going.

"Perhaps if this game against Dungannon is called off it will give the boys a break but we will be ready for the challenges when they come. It's nice to be in semi-finals and finals and after falling short last season we want to keep up that chase for silverware."

Belfast Telegraph

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