Belfast Telegraph

McClean can show his worth and make Ards hotseat his own


Team player: Craig McClean is in pole position to become Ards manager
Team player: Craig McClean is in pole position to become Ards manager

By Steven Beacom

Caretaker manager Craig McClean will take charge of Ards for the first time tomorrow knowing victory at home to Knockbreda will improve his chances of replacing Warren Feeney on a more permanent basis.

Former Crusaders ace McClean is renowned for being a team player, and his first thoughts will be to secure victory for the club in their quest to climb the Championship table. He will be aware such a result could have a lasting impact.

Following Feeney's surprise departure earlier this month to become boss of Bulgarian club OFC Pirin Blagoevgrad, a number of high profile names have been linked to the vacant post, including ex-Glentoran bosses Gary Smyth and Gary Haveron.

Ards may have no ground of their own and have been inconsistent since dropping out of the top flight last season, but they have not been shy on interest to move into the hotseat.

McClean is in pole position and will fancy his chances of overcoming bottom club Knockbreda. He would have taken the team against H&W Welders last Saturday only for the game to be postponed. Now, having been part of Feeney's coaching set-up, he gets his big chance.

Trailing leaders Portadown by 17 points, Ards, who have two games in hand, need to improve dramatically to move into promotion contention. They defeated high flying Ballinamallard 3-2 a few weeks ago, which shows what they are capable of.

Harry McConkey's Ferney Park side, in second five points adrift of Portadown, host third placed Loughgall in the game of the day in the Championship.

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Matthew Tipton's men are looking good but can't afford to take things lightly at fourth placed Dundela, who have what it takes to upset Portadown.

Elsewhere, Newry will entertain Queen's, Dergview travel to Ballyclare and the Welders are at PSNI.

Championship fixtures: PSNI v H&W Welders (2pm), Ards v Knockbreda, Ballinamallard v Loughgall, Ballyclare v Dergview, Dundela v Portadown, Newry City v Queens (all 3pm)

Belfast Telegraph


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