Glentoran's Joe Crowe relying on his Big Two luck to change ahead of derby clash
Versatile Joe Crowe is aiming to break his Big Two duck in tomorrow's Danske Bank Premiership showdown with Linfield at Windsor Park.
The 21-year-old Glentoran midfielder, who can also operate comfortably in defence, has played in three Belfast derby games since coming back from Norwich City - and he is still looking for his first win.
He was snapped up by Blues boss David Healy on his return from Carrow Road but, following an unsuccessful stint at Windsor Park, he moved across town in August 2018.
He has been the driving force behind Glentoran's impressive early-season form - they are now up to third in the table - and he's eager to get that first Big Two win under his belt.
"I haven't got a great record," he said. "When I came back from England, I was in the Linfield side that lost to Glentoran. Then, the Blues beat us twice last season. Hopefully my luck will change this time.
"It's a massive game for both clubs. We've won five games on the bounce, so we are in a good place at the minute. There is no reason why we can't extend that run.
"Big Two games are always feisty affairs, and this will be no different.
"I know we'll take a big support over to Windsor.
"Linfield will also have a big support, so it has the makings of a cracking game."
Crowe admits he is now firing on all cylinders, having missed out on a chunk of last season because of injury.
Not only are the Glens making steady progress in terms of their league position, they have negotiated the opening rounds in both the League Cup and County Antrim Shield competitions.
"There is hectic competition for places, that's the way it should be at this club," said Crowe.
"I know it's still early days, but it's important we keep going in all competitions.
"We'll take it game by game. It would be fair to say that Glentoran have gone out of tournaments too early over the past few seasons - it's up to us to change that.
"Although we've won our last five games, we'll not get too ahead of ourselves.
"Mick (McDermott) and Windy (Paul Millar) are the kind of guys to keep us grounded.
"There are also plenty of players with old heads in the dressing room, so no one will be getting above their station."
Following the league win over Larne last weekend, Glens boss McDermott made an astonishing 10 changes to the team that defeated Ballyclare Comrades in the League Cup in midweek.
Crowe admits his gaffer could well face a selection headache ahead of tomorrow's Windsor dust-up.
"We showed what we are about with our performance against Larne," added Crowe.
"That's the type of battling performance now expected of Glentoran.
"Even though we went a goal down, the boys showed great character and desire to come back and win the game.
"It would be fair to say had we gone a goal down against any club last season, we wouldn't have won the game - we wouldn't even have got a draw. It's different this season, the new management have installed a lot of confidence.
"There is certainly a lot more togetherness in the squad. Everyone is pushing in the right direction. The players have all been doing their jobs on the pitch - and it has paid off in terms of our results so far."
Crowe went on: "It says a lot about the squad that the boss could afford to make so many changes for the Ballyclare match.
"Mick has brought in some top players and he now has a luxury of riches in terms of his playing staff.
"Everyone is battling for a place and everyone knows if you don't put in the hard graft on the pitch, you'll not be playing. It's as simple as that.
"There are also some great kids as well at the club.
"Mick played a lot of the kids against Ballyclare Comrades in the Shield in midweek and they were brilliant. Although he has signed some experienced players, he still has a great crop of kids at the club. It doesn't matter about age, if you are good enough, you are old enough."