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Nixon is already proving a shrewd buy, says Kearney

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Instant impact: Stewart Nixon finds the net against Glenavon

Instant impact: Stewart Nixon finds the net against Glenavon

Instant impact: Stewart Nixon finds the net against Glenavon

Oran Kearney has spoken about his satisfaction in signing Stewart Nixon in the January transfer window prior to the player becoming one of the most wanted in the Irish League.

Nixon gave Coleraine fans a glimpse of what he is all about on Tuesday night, scoring and assisting in a vital 2-1 victory at home to Glenavon which took the Bannsiders to within four points of leaders Linfield.

The 22-year-old developed brilliantly under Niall Currie at Carrick Rangers and now aims to kick on with treble-chasing Coleraine, who snapped him up on deadline day earlier this year.

"We are not a club who can pay the big fees that are going around the league at the moment so for us it is about trying to stick to the model we have to try and remain competitive with clubs who have bigger budgets," said Kearney, whose team visit derby rivals Ballymena United tomorrow.

"We have to get in quickly when we see players like Stewarty Nixon. Had he had another season or two at Carrick, the way he was going all the big teams would have been after him.

"What we have to do is find players like that but find them a couple of seasons before they are going to be big so we have a chance of getting them.

"We got Aaron Jarvis in at the start of the season and like Stuart he was another cracking signing. We had to pay a small nominal fee for him but signed him at a great time.

"With Stewart we did our homework on his temperament, attitude and what he is like on and off the pitch and he has been super since he has come on board.

"Against Glenavon we saw glimpses that he is settling into the environment and feel that he is good to go now and can be an important player for us moving forward."

One man who has excelled all season for Coleraine is centre-back Aaron Canning in his second spell at the club.

Canning is now one of the most influential players in the Irish Premiership.

"Aaron has been phenomenal and I have not been shocked by that," said ex-St Mirren boss Kearney. "I came across Aaron as a 16-year-old when I took over as manager of Limavady. The very moment I took over at Limavady I met with Aaron and his father and at that point I was nearly too late in arriving because he was away to Coleraine within a couple of weeks.

"I had a few dealings with him and kept an eye on him and it was brilliant to watch his progress.

"For us this season Aaron has been outstanding. He really has been magnificent with his performances and has to be a big contender for the Player of the Season awards.

"Even the likes of (assistant boss) Winkie (Murphy) and Stephen Douglas, as defenders, have been saying how well he has been playing."

Kearney sees Canning as the best centre-back in the division. He views Chris Johns the same way in the goalkeeping department.

There has been much speculation lately that Johns will join Linfield next season but Kearney is not giving up hope that he will stay where he is.

Tomorrow, against 10th-placed Ballymena, Ben Doherty is set to return from injury, though Jamie Glackin is suspended for Coleraine.

"With the Ballymena game being a derby I don't think league positions will have a huge bearing on the game. We just have to make sure we perform," stated Kearney.

Ballymena Utd vs Coleraine

Danske Bank Premiership:

Ballymena Showgrounds, Tomorrow, 3pm

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