CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin believes that Dungannon Swifts have been hard done by so far this season and won’t be underestimating them.

The Swifts make the trip to Solitude on Saturday (3pm kick-off) looking for a win to kickstart their league campaign, following three successive defeats.

McLaughlin insists that his squad are preparing for a tough game and one as difficult as previous head-to-head encounters last year.

“They’ve been very hard done by; I saw a couple of calls went against them on Saturday and another penalty tonight, but Dungannon are definitely a really good football side,” believes McLaughlin.

“Dean Shiels has done an excellent job there. I think he has one of the top coaches and we definitely won’t be underestimating them. They’ve been very unlucky in their results. Their performances have been excellent, but they’ve been unlucky with their results.

“It’s important that we get prepared for a real tough game. It always is against them, which is something to look forward to but it will definitely be as tough as every other game we play against them.”

The Reds go into the weekend clash following a hard-fought 2-1 win over Ballymena United at the Showgrounds on Tuesday evening.

McLaughlin felt his side was in control of the game until Ballymena equalised and lamented his disappointment of conceding against the run of play.

“They’ve got quality in their side, and they can punish you in the blink of an eye and that’s what happened,” McLaughlin reflected.

“We controlled large parts of the first half and we had two or three great chances after we took the lead. We were just waiting on the second goal to go in and like I say - the goal came out of nowhere.

“We probably conceded against the run of play on Saturday, and we did it tonight again. The boys remained composed, and they knew what they were doing was right and kept going and kept playing. They got their rewards in the end.”

Luke Turner impressed in the left-back slot, following an injury to regular custodian Levi Ives.

His manager was full of praise for the job that the 2022 Young Player of the Year has done and praised his commitment to the cause.

“Big Luke was Young Player of the Year for a reason,” insists McLaughlin.

“He has been top drawer since the day he’s come in the door, and he continues to do that. You always say that good players can play anywhere, and he is certainly one of the top players in the county.

“Whether he plays centre-back or left-back, he doesn’t look out of place in any of them. It’s the sign of a top player and that’s exactly what he is. He’s been brilliant from the day he’s come in and he’s committed.

“He’s made a big commitment moving to Belfast to represent the club and he represents with high esteem every time he steps on the pitch. I’m sure his family are proud of him because we’re delighted to have him.”

With Ives suffering a reoccurrence of a metatarsal injury - this time on the other foot - McLaughlin is adamant he is happy with the squad available at this moment but didn’t rule out new recruits coming in before the window shuts next Thursday evening.

“We’re happy with what we have, and the board have been brilliant with me over the summer in attracting good players,” admits McLaughlin.

“They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them and if what we have is what we have when the window closes, I’ll be quite happy.

“You never know, anything can happen in football. We have picked up a couple of injuries and it might be something we might have to look at again.

“I’m sure the chairman won’t be happy at hearing that but sometimes things are thrown on you that you have to deal with. If we have to add to it, it might be a shout, but we’ll not add to it for the sake of it.

“We’ve got good young players here in Sean Moore and Odhran Casey who came on tonight. If anyone can bring extra to what we have, we’ll definitely look at it, but if not we’re quite happy to go with what we have.”