Belfast Telegraph

McLaughlin calls on his men to rebound from Blues drubbing

 

Refocused: Paddy McLaughlin
Refocused: Paddy McLaughlin

By Alex Mills

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin is demanding an instant response from his team following their midweek tanking by newly crowned Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield.

David Healy's boys turned in a virtuoso performance in their final home game of the season, leaving the Reds to lick their wounds after a five-goal thumping.

There will be little other than pride at stake when McLaughlin takes his team down the M1 to face Glenavon at Mourneview Park today - the former Institute chief admitting that next week's European play-offs are now the priority.

"We know our position in the table will not change," states McLaughlin. "It will take the pressure off us to a certain extent.

"Again, I'll be giving some boys the chance to get their match fitness up to speed ahead of next week's European play-offs.

"I want to play my strongest side going into every match, but I have to take into account that four of my players are one booking away from not making those play-offs.

"I have to keep an eye on the bigger pictures, which is the play-offs - European qualification is our priority.

"It's a bit messy in terms of the draw - a lot depends on who wins the Irish Cup.

"I think it's safe to say, we'll be playing Coleraine - the other semi-final is up in the air at present for two or three teams.

"First, we'll look for a performance at Glenavon and a good result before we focus on the play-offs."

McLaughlin admits the midweek showing against the Blues was unacceptable.

"It was the worst performance since I took over at the club," he added. "The score line says all we need to know about the game.

"We had to make a lot of changes from the previous match, simply to protect certain players who are walking a suspension tightrope. In saying that, we still have a squad more than capable of putting in a better performance than they did."

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