Sky Blues prepare for Oval test

Ballymena United.
Ballymena United.

GLENN Ferguson has warned his Ballymena United players to put all thoughts of their forthcoming Irish Cup clash with Coleraine out of their minds and focus on securing league points.

After scraping through Saturday’s Irish Cup tie with a 2-1 win over Warrenpoint Town, United are back in action tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm) with a trip to Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership – a game which had initially been postponed from the Saturday before Christmas.

“There’s a lot of football to be played between now and the next round of the cup and we need to pick up points if we’re going to challenge for a top six place,” Ferguson told Times Sport.

“We’re looking forward to it. In recent years it seems that when Ballymena have gone to the Oval we seem to have come out with a decent result.

“It’s a chance to go and play well against a good team on a good pitch.

“We will certainly have to improve from Saturday – we will have to raise our game and that shouldn’t be a problem against Glentoran.

“Attacking-wise, we’re in a better position than we would have been when the game was originally meant to be played but we’re missing one or two players defensively.

“We certainly have a better goal threat with the two new strikers and Alan Davidson back so hopefully we can create a few chances.

“Gary Liggett had a quieter debut than I maybe expected but it will take him a wee while to adjust to see how we play. He came into the game more in the last 15 minutes and created a couple of chances but he will get better as he gets to know the way we play – there’s no doubt about that.

“We now have the players to play 4-4-2 but we can play 4-3-3 in some games or one of the big men up front with someone smaller off him.

“Players don’t dictate to us what system we play – we’ll tell them and we’ll put them into a situation where we feel it will best help us get a result.”

Ferguson will run a late fitness check on midfielder Gary Thompson who came off at half-time on Saturday with a dead leg.

Defender Aaron Stewart aggravated his recent hamstring injury in training last week and will be out for another 10 days, while striker Jamie Davidson remains sidelined with a knee injury sustained in a recent reserve game.

Of the longer-term casualties, Michael Ruddy is making good progress from a broken foot while defender Johnny Taylor will undergo rehabilitation treatment at Lilleshall in England later this month before the surgeon treating his knee ligament injury decides whether an operation will be necessary.

Seven Towers Supporters’ Club transport to tonight’s game will leave Henry Street car park at 7pm, while the bus for Saturday’s trip to Crusaders leaves the same location at 2pm.

Ferguson has signed Portuguese national Pedro Nuno Rodrigues Rufino, who lives in the Harryville area and who has been training at the Showgrounds in recent weeks.

“He’s signed as an amateur. His international clearance came through last week so we’ll get a look at him in a couple of games for the Reserves to see how he does,” added Ferguson.