Belfast Telegraph

Warrenpoint can rock Linfield and ignite campaign: McDonnell

Still believing: Stephen McDonnell believes Warrenpoint will start racking up points sooner rather than later, though his side face a tough test against David Healy’s Linfield
Still believing: Stephen McDonnell believes Warrenpoint will start racking up points sooner rather than later, though his side face a tough test against David Healy’s Linfield

By Steven Beacom

Warrenpoint Town manager Stephen McDonnell is convinced that his team will put their first points on the board this season sooner rather than later, insisting tonight at home to Linfield would be the perfect time to do it.

The Milltown men have lost all five of their opening Danske Bank Premiership fixtures and lie rooted to the bottom of the table with a goal difference of minus 13.

Not the start McDonnell wanted or envisaged, even though he realised that it would take a little time for his new players to gel.

While defeats against Coleraine, Glenavon, Institute and Crusaders - a game they should have won - were disappointing, the young Town boss deemed last Saturday's 6-1 home loss to Ballymena United as unacceptable.

McDonnell spoke to his players for a long time on the pitch afterwards, declaring that they had to come up with answers ahead of the visit of David Healy's Linfield, who will be looking to return to top spot after a frustrating 0-0 draw with Ards at Windsor Park last time out.

"We have to dust ourselves down and it's over to the players now," said McDonnell.

"We asked the players to go away and reflect on the performance against Ballymena United and come back and put in big improvements going forward. It was scary how we could go to that level of performance.

"Against Ballymena there were zero positives. They were like a hot knife through butter.

"But now we look forward to Linfield coming. Will people expect us to get something out of the game? Absolutely not, but we still believe in what we are doing.

"We have to pull together and try and cause an upset. We have to stun someone eventually and I believe we have the quality to do it.

"It would be fantastic to do it against Linfield and it would really kick-start our season."

Given the attacking talent of the Blues, Warrenpoint's new goalkeeper Aaron McCarey could have a busy debut.

The 26-year-old arrives with a solid reputation having started his career with his hometown club Monaghan United, where he broke into the first team at 17.

McCarey moved to Wolves early in 2010 and has had spells with Walsall, York City, Portsmouth, Bury and Ross County, as well as playing for the Republic of Ireland under-age sides.

"Myself and Aaron go back to our under-age playing days together with Dundalk and international teams, so it's great to be back working together," said McDonnell.

"He will certainly add huge experience to the squad."

Blues boss Healy was honest enough to admit that his side were flat against Ards in their scoreless draw.

He will want his players to return to their outstanding form in their early fixtures.

"We will look for a better performance and result at Warrenpoint. It's a big game for us and we feel if we are at it, it is a game that we can win," he said.

With none of the other top four sides in league action over the weekend, Linfield know a victory would take them three points clear.

Meanwhile, former Linfield youngster Chris McKee has signed a full-time contract with Rangers Under-18s and he will continue his studies with the club's partner school Boclair Academy.

Linfield's academy chief Glenn Ferguson stated: "Chris isn't the biggest player in the world. He's not 6ft-plus.

"But he can hold the ball up well and uses his body. He gets himself in good positions and makes intuitive runs.

"His style will definitely suit the full-time game, and Linfield are delighted to help another young player get their chance across the water."

In June, Celtic snapped up Linfield starlet, 16-year-old Ben Wylie.

Belfast Telegraph


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