Baxter refusing to dwell on cup defeat

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter insists there won’t be any League Cup hangover when his players step out at Ferney Park on Saturday.

The Crues suffered an agonising penalty shootout defeat to derby rivals Cliftonville six days ago as their first tilt at silverware this season ended in disappointment.

There is little time for reflection, however, as Baxter’s side attempts to inject fresh impetus into their Premiership title drive.

“It hasn’t been hard lifting the players after last week’s defeat,” Baxter said.

“I always say you should treat the two imposters the same. When you win trophies, you celebrate for an hour or two and then you move on.

“If you lose a final, who are disappointed but you also move on.

“So the players were back enjoying their training on Tuesday night, and our only focus is on what lies ahead.”

Baxter will hand a debut to new signing Richard Clarke on Saturday as Chris Morrow misses out with a foot injury, while defender Paul Leeman is sidelined after breaking his hand in last week’s League Cup decider.

“Paul has been phenomenal for us in the past few weeks,” Baxter said.

“He has been a standout player for us, so this is a massive blow. But it also gives someone else the chance to come in.

“We are obviously delighted to bring Richard in, and he will come in as a straight replacement for Chris.

“Richard is a quality player.”

Mallards boss Whitey Andersonhas called on “one big push” from his players as they prepare for a hectic end to their season.

“We have 12 league games left, plus the Setanta and Irish Cup competitions,” he said.

“It is a busy schedule, but the players are up for it.”