Glenn Ferguson admits he has to make “big calls” on some of his Ballymena United players’ futures in the coming months.
The Sky Blues boss is alarmed by his side’s dramatic dip in form since winning the Toals County Antrim Shield last month.
And having witnessed a similar pattern following United’s previous Shield triumph three years ago, Ferguson had warned that a repeat would see players putting their Showgrounds futures in jeopardy.
“This is the same players who can lift their game against Linfield and Crusaders because they have to but they have to do the same against the other sides and I question whether some of them can do that,” said Ferguson after Friday night’s 2-0 home defeat by the nine men of Coleraine.
“There are some players we now have to make big calls on.
“We have a lot of players who are out of contract this summer and we have players in the squad who aren’t doing themselves justice.
“I ask the players do they go home and think about their performance, whether they have done things wrong or right, do they know the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent the next week and I’m not sure too many of them do it,” added Ferguson, who will have Johnny Taylor and Nathan Hanley back from suspension for Saturday’s league trip to Glentoran.
The manager has targeted catching the Glens to claim sixth place before the league split, but after the east Belfast side’s midweek win at Glenavon, they are eight points clear of United with a game in hand, meaning that victory is essential for the Sky Blues at the Oval.
“If we had won against Coleraine it would have helped us colsolidate even seventh place and it would have set us up well for going to the Oval.
“They are all key games, partcularly at this stage of the season. There is no game we go into feeling relaxed,” added Ferguson.
Seven Towers Supporters’ Club bus for the Oval leaves Henry Street car park at 1.45pm.