Belfast Telegraph

Swifts have to be wary of a response from wounded Cliftonville, warns Hegarty

 

Chris Hegarty
Chris Hegarty

By Alex Mills

Dungannon Swifts defender Chris Hegarty expects a Cliftonville backlash in today's Tennent's Irish Cup fifth round clash at Solitude.

Barry Gray's erratic Reds haven't won a league game since December 15 and in their last four outings have shipped a staggering 17 goals.

That horrible run has resulted in the north Belfast side dropping out of Danske Bank Premiership title contention - they are now a whopping 15 points adrift of table-topping Linfield.

It means the Irish Cup is the only tangible route to silverware this season for Gray and his boys. Hegarty, however, insists the Swifts will not be travelling up the M1 to hand out any favours.

"I know they have been letting in a lot of goals so they'll certainly want to bounce back, especially with the firepower they have," said the former Rangers and Linfield man.

"It's important for us to keep the back door closed. We also have been conceding unnecessary goals ourselves, which is something we must address. It's something I need to look at personally.

"If we keep the back door closed on Saturday, you never know what will happen."

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The Swifts have already been on the wrong end of a 5-1 league defeat at Solitude, so Hegarty knows what to expect.

"We know they can score goals. Joe Gormley has bags of goals in him. He may be quiet for much of the game, but he can pop up with a couple of goals at any time," said Hegarty.

"We need to be fully switched on. Our concentration levels need to be very high. We can go out and enjoy it because we haven't got the pressure of picking up league points hovering over us. We look forward to it - everyone loves a cup tie. We can go and enjoy it."

Meanwhile, striker Daniel Hughes has followed Hegarty and Seanan Clucas in signing a contract extension.

Hughes has committed his future to the club until at least 2021.

Swifts boss Kris Lindsay said: "I'm delighted to get Daniel signed on with a year's extension until 2021. He is a goalscorer and the type of quality that we need going forward, so I really am delighted to get the extension sorted."

Hughes added: "I agreed to sign an extension because I like the ideas that Kris has regarding where he wants the club to go.

"I feel that since I signed last year, I've settled in well and I want to be a part of what's happening at the club over the next number of seasons."

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