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Peace of mind provided by testing a great boost for us all, admits Coleraine captain O'Donnell



Stephen O’Donnell

Stephen O’Donnell

�INPHO/Brian Little

Stephen O’Donnell

Coleraine defender Stephen O'Donnell has hailed the powers-that-be for introducing testing ahead of the resumption of the Danske Bank Premiership.

The league has been halted over the past two weeks amid growing concerns from players and officials over their safety as Covid numbers increased rapidly across Northern Ireland.

However, after all players were tested on Thursday evening, Bannsiders skipper O'Donnell is relishing the visit of Dungannon Swifts to The Showgrounds.

"I'm delighted to be back in a safe environment as we all have peace of mind with the testing, and it's brilliant that it has been set up," he said. "I'm sure the players and fans across the country are glad the football is back as it's something to look forward to, albeit in different circumstances.

"As a team we have been keeping in touch with each other during the break and things went back to normal as soon as we started training on Tuesday. I'm sure everyone in the league would like to get 38 games played but 33 fixtures might be more feasible at this moment in time.

"However, that's up to the powers-that-be but, for us, we need to make sure we are where we want to be once the season ends."

Oran Kearney's men suffered a 2-0 loss in their recent meeting with the Swifts but they have won every game since and currently sit in sixth spot.

After finishing runners-up last season and tasting success in the BetMcLean League Cup, O'Donnell admits the players haven't made the best start to the Premiership after their Europa League heroics.

"Just before the break we were getting into our stride and playing well," the 28-year-old said.

"The 'circuit-breaker' was the correct decision, but it's down to us now to kick on where we left off. We need to make sure we get a good result as we enter a tough run of fixtures, but we know we won't have it easy as Dungannon beat us over a month ago, so we have a point to prove.

"We didn't make the best start to the league campaign after the excellent European run we celebrated. However, we stuck together and Oran was brilliant at keeping us grounded and telling us to focus on the collective."

Belfast Telegraph