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Curtis Allen: I'm ready to fire Coleraine to League Cup glory in dramatic debut


Curtis Allen

Curtis Allen

@INPHO/Brian Little

Curtis Allen

Curtis Allen has declared himself fit and ready to make a big impact for Coleraine in Saturday's BetMcLean League Cup final against Crusaders at Windsor Park.

The 31-year-old striker made a deadline day loan move to the Bannsiders after six years at Glentoran and he could make his debut in the battle of the Premiership heavyweights.

Allen, who agreed a two-year pre-contract with Coleraine which will see him make the move permanent in the summer, was part of the team which lost the 2012 League Cup final to Crusaders.

After scoring 44 goals across two seasons the last time he was at the Showgrounds, the former Linfield frontman is hungry to deliver in blue and white stripes again.

And a winner in Saturday's showdown in front of more than 4,000 fans would be a dream start to this new chapter in his career.

"There's not too many times in your football career when you sign for a club and your debut could be a big Cup final," said Allen, who netted 110 goals in 232 appearances for the Glens.

"I'll do all I can to help the club win silverware. It will be a fantastic achievement for the club and also a nice way for me to return. I'm going to be involved. I've just played about 15 minutes in the last five months so I have catching up to do in terms of match fitness but I'll be involved in the squad and hoping to come off the bench and make a big impact.

"Oran (Kearney) knows I'm available and we will see how the game goes but hopefully I will come on at some stage."

Allen added: “I’ve been training as normal and just not quite ready to play a full game.

“Football is a funny game and it presents you with opportunities sometimes. I tell players all the time that when chances come you have to take them.

“I would love to come on late if the game is won so I can enjoy it but whatever happens I will be eager to come on and make an impact.

“I know substitutes can make a difference and I will be ready and focused to do the job.

“When I was at Coleraine, Crusaders beat us in the 2012 League Cup final. Chris Morrow scored the winner and that was my first experience of the final.”

There’s sometimes a favourite going into a decider but Coleraine v Crusaders clashes are hard to call.

Both squads are packed with match-winners and both managers will be hoping their big players can produce a decisive moment of magic.

“It will be a tight affair, Crusaders are well experienced and a good side,” added Allen. “They are more than capable of performing on any stage.

“Both sides have been involved in big finals over the years so I don’t believe pressure comes into it. It can come down to the weather or just luck. There’s not usually too many chances and if you can be clinical you can win.”

While Coleraine’s total focus this week is on the Cup final, the Bannsiders and Allen also find themselves in the middle of an exciting title sprint.

Kearney’s men recorded a big 1-0 win at Glentoran on Saturday to move second on goal difference from the east Belfast side.

“It was a great result at Glentoran and a win there is always a big one,” added Allen, who joined the Glens in 2014. “I wouldn’t say other results went our way. Coleraine want to stay under the radar and we will go about our business the way we want.

“The teams around us have bigger squads and we need to keep boys fit and firing.

“It’s important the players don’t break down for the run-in but it’s so tight in the league and the picture changes every week, one poor result can drop you down a few placings.

“It’s nice to have a Cup final to look forward to and that’s getting our full concentration.”

Some clubs have embraced more full-time environments and are showing their financial muscle in the transfer market, but Allen believes the players themselves deserve to be applauded for a new professional mindset.

“I think the standard has risen and yes there has been investment but you also have to give great credit to the players,” he added. “The players’ attitudes on and off the pitch to improve themselves is worth praising. They sacrifice going out at the weekends and the players have changed their attitudes.

“It’s a different mindset and approach that is making them better players and as a consequence the league is of a much higher standard.”

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