Larne manager Tiernan Lynch says the Big Two will take some stopping in the sprint for championship success.
Champions Linfield and Glentoran are the frontrunners in an enthralling title sprint with plenty more thrills and spills in the months ahead.
The Invermen will get a close look at Mick McDermott’s in-form Glentoran side at The Oval tomorrow evening (5.30pm).
Larne have already beaten the Glens in the Co Antrim Shield this season and the teams played out a 1-1 league draw at Inver Park last month.
After defeats to Ballymena United and Linfield, Lynch’s men returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at Carrick Rangers on Monday.
But the Glens will be a tougher nut to crack after a 1-1 draw at Linfield extended their impressive unbeaten run to 14 games.
The Big Two will add to their squads in January but they are already well equipped for the title run-in.
Former Glens coach Lynch expects the east Belfast giants to remain on the front foot.
“Glentoran should be title contenders considering the squad they have,” said Lynch.
“They have incredible firepower and they are on a long unbeaten run.
“They are in great form and came back from 1-0 down against Linfield to earn a draw so you must take your hat off to them.
“I think anyone who finishes above Linfield and Glentoran will win the league.
“The Big Two are the biggest threat.
“They have the biggest squads and they have the know-how and personnel to challenge.”
Goals from Tomas Cosgrove, Ronan Hale and David McDaid secured maximum points for Larne at Carrick following David Cushley’s opener from the penalty spot.
“It wasn’t a pretty win, we won’t be looking back in the archives for it, but we showed good character, especially after we went 1-0 down,” added Lynch.
“We had seven players out for different reasons — Covid, injury, suspension — and it was very pleasing to give a young 18-year-old his debut at centre-back (Academy graduate Nick Aretzis). We were pleased to do enough to secure the win.
“We will see who is fit for Saturday for what will be a difficult test.”