Cliftonville will need to improve upon current form if they're to claim victory in tomorrow's Solitude showdown with Linfield.
That's the view of boss Eddie Patterson, who has seen his side struggle in frustrating away draws with Donegal Celtic and Warrenpoint Town in recent weeks and who freely admits he's still working hard to freshen up his squad before the transfer window slams shut in 10 days time.
“We've entered into negotiations with a few clubs about possible deals that might be done and although we're still doing what we can to bring a couple of new faces in, nothing has happened just yet,” he explained.
“It's no secret that there's precious little money flying around in Irish League circles these days so most clubs are interested in swap deals, with players moving in both directions.
“That's something we would be open to as well, but once we've got down to business, we've found that opposing managers are enquiring about our young, up-and-coming stars — and that's not an avenue we're prepared to go down.
“I firmly believe these kids are the future of Cliftonville Football Club and while there are some players I might be willing to let go, I'd be talking about some of the more senior and experienced names.
“That said, you can't force a player to leave if he's under contract so, at the end of the day, it will be down to individuals whether or not they want to go or if they'd rather stay and hit the levels we expect of them.”
Patterson, whose side defeated Linfield 3-1 at Solitude little more than a month ago, says he's been disappointed by his players' apparent lack of enthusiasm to kick on and make a real push to be in contention for major honours.
“Looking at the season overall, I would say we haven't fully clicked yet or played anything like the sort of football we're capable of,” he said.
“Even with that, we're third in the table — so just imagine where we could be if we really began reaching our potential.
“That's the frustrating thing for me because I know my players can produce more than they've been giving.
“A couple of weeks ago, we had the chance to go second in the table when we were away to Donegal Celtic. We started the game brightly, created a few chances, but we failed to take them and then took our foot off the gas after half an hour or so.
“We duly fell behind and suddenly, from going in search of a vital win, we're left scrambling to try and claim a point.
“Thankfully, we got ourselves a late equaliser, but failed to learn the lessons of that night because it was a repeat story against Warrenpoint in the Irish Cup last Saturday.
“Play like that against Linfield and we won't get away with it, they'll not be anywhere near as forgiving.”