STEPHEN Baxter insists Crusaders are hungry to defend their IRN-BRU League Cup crown.
The Crues – who lifted the trophy last season with a 1-0 win over Coleraine in the final – travel to Dixon park tonight for a last-16 showdown with Carrick Rangers.
Carrick were relegated from the Irish Premiership last season, but Baxter is anticipating a tough night against Michael Hughes’ men.
“We will go to Ballyclare with the focus on winning the game, and we will pick our squad wisely,” Baxter said.
“We are certainly in it to win it. We don’t enter these competitions to sit back. We want silverware and we will see what it brings us.
“Bangor gave us a tough test in the County Antrim Shield. We made eight changes for that game and they had nothing to lose.
“Carrick are in the same boat in that they have everything to gain. We are all-Ireland champions and there to be shot at.
“That is what Linfield play under every week, and now we are seeing what it is like. Carrick will be fired up, and they impressed me last season.
“So it is a tough game, but we have quality players sitting in the wings waiting to be unleashed.
“We have options and we will use them.”
Baxter added: “The games are coming thick and fast. We have the league schedule and now we have a cup game to contend with.
“We have got a big squad and we will look to play one or two who haven’t been playing much recently.
“We also have Colin Coates’ testimonial on Wednesday to think about, so we have a lot on our plate.”