CLIFTONVILLE manager Paddy McLaughlin feels side have done well at The Oval over the past couple of seasons ahead of their visit on Sunday afternoon (12.30pm kick-off).

The Qatar World Cup begins on Sunday, but locally the Reds visit to East Belfast is the biggest show in town as second takes on third in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Reds were victorious on both visits to the Glens last season and McLaughlin believes that his side will need to be at their best in order to come away with another three-points.

 

“It’s a tough venue, we’ve done well over the past couple of seasons at Glentoran,” McLaughlin recalled.

“Big games require big performances and we’ve always performed really well at The Oval and we’re going to need that on Sunday.

“They’re a top side along with Larne, they’re obviously the two leaders of the pack as they say.

“The two of them have been superb and any team that get a result against Glentoran and Larne in the form they’re in at the minute, has to do really well for it.

“We’ve got to be at our best, we’ve got to defend like we are, play as well as we are and create the chances that we are.

“It’s going to be all that and more on Sunday to get a result at The Oval, but we look forward to it and we’re going into it in good form.”

One player that won’t feature for the Glens in the coming weeks in ex-Red Conor McMenamin.

The Northern Ireland international suffered a fractured fibula and is expected to miss the next six-to-eight weeks.

McLaughlin believes his absence is a shame and has called on more protection for the league’s top talents.

“It’s a shame for the league, we’ve lost our best player in the division over the past couple of years,” admits McLaughlin.

“I’m really disappointed on a personal note. Knowing Conor so well and how well he done for us, you’re disappointed and sad to see that.

“It’s not my business to say too much on what happened in the game and how the tackles went in and what was let go and what wasn’t.

“Mick McDermott said it and he is 100 per cent right - you’ve got to protect players better than they’re getting.

“We’re very lucky to have him (Conor McMenamin) because there is plenty of leagues that would be glad to have Conor McMenamin’s of the world. Now he’s going to be out of it through a bad injury.

“If those kinds of things are let go then I think we need to look at how we’re going to go about this because we have to protect players better and I don’t think he got any protection on Friday night at all.”

The Reds’ boss was pleased with his side’s 2-0 win over Dungannon Swifts at the weekend and hit back at critics of the team of late.

“They learnt it on Tuesday night because they kept a clean sheet in that game as well and it as another difficult venue,” he reflected.

“It is a good recovery from us, we were disappointed surely that we dropped two points, but we knew it wasn’t the end of the world.

“There’s going to be a lot of bumps along the way for all teams and that’s all we treated it as, just a bump in the road that slowed us down.

“We quickly recovered and gathered momentum on Tuesday night and continued it on today.

“You see people quoting and talking about our team over the week, people who haven’t spoken about us in almost a year.

“Last year we were excellent and I’ve seen a few familiar faces raise their head and criticising our team after one bad result.

“The same boys never spoke a word about our team for a full calendar year when we were doing so well. We deal with that and take it on board.

“I’m disappointed to hear that, but I thought the boys responded brilliantly since the Glenavon game.”

Ryan Curran brought his goal tally to nine for the season with his double at Stangmore Park and McLaughlin was full of praise for his forward line.

“Currany has been brilliant for us. Him, Joe and Ronan have been working really well together,” he acknowledged.

“You have to work well when you’re keeping the likes of Sean Moore and Jamie McDonagh out of the team. They have been working well, they’re linking up well and they’re sharing the goals among themselves- usually the responsibility is on Joe’s shoulders.

“I think the two boys have also contributed really well this year along with Joe, Ronan and Currany.

“Fair play to the three boys upfront, they’re lively, they’re dangerous and they score goals in the blink of an eye. Fair play to them, they’re doing well for us up there.”