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Reds feeling refreshed after tough away days: Gray


By Conor McLaughlin

Barry Gray has been pleased to get back on the training pitch this week after two "gruelling" away days tested Cliftonville to the limit.

The Reds approach this afternoon's Danske Bank Premiership clash with Ballymena United on the back of 11 victories from their last 13 outings, but the Solitude boss admits that recent triumphs over struggling Carrick Rangers and Ards took their toll.

"It's been nice to have a little bit of recovery time because things had been quite difficult the previous week," he said.

"We played Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, which isn't ideal in terms of scheduling training and getting the level of preparation in that we would have liked.

"Credit to the players because they've won difficult away matches in a style that we probably wouldn't have been able to manage earlier in the season.

"We had to grind the results out and it was pleasing to see us do that, but they were two gruelling workouts."

Gray, whose charges are bidding to complete a clean sweep of November successes when they host the Sky Blues today, is expecting a different kind of test against David Jeffrey's men but is hopeful that home advantage can help swing things in Cliftonville's favour.

"It will be a different game to what we've had in the last couple of weeks," he added.

"We'll have the opportunity to play a bit more and, obviously, given it is at Solitude, it will be a big benefit for us.

"We have had normal trainings and normal prep.

"It seems to be the first week in a while where we haven't had something to crop up.

"Ruairi Harkin is now back in training and it was great to have Liam Bagnall return from injury against Ards last weekend, which gives us an extra option."

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