Dungannon Swifts chief Darren Murphy has thrown down the gauntlet to his players ahead of Saturday’s Premiership clash against Ballinamallard United at Stangmore Park.
Following four successive defeats, the Swifts are in danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap over the remaining six games, but Murphy has told his team: ‘get yourselves safe because you deserve it’.
“The challenge is for my boys is that we have six games remaining and they are all against the teams below us, apart from Ballymena,” said Murphy.
“I want to draw a line in the sand and move on. There are 18 points to play for and I want to see how many they can accumulate from that.
“That will tell me as a manager where I will be next year with the current group of players. If we are only able to pick up seven or eight points, then I’ll know that I probably have a bigger building job on my hands than I anticipated.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good players in that dressing room. I just hope they respond and pick up the points.
“I’ve already told them to get themselves safe because they deserve it. I don’t want to be safe by other teams not winning.”
The Swifts are coming off the back of a 3-0 defeat against title chasing Linfield, but Murphy was far from disillusioned with the overall display.
“The plus side for me was the performance of young Chris Lowe in midfield,” added Murphy.
“For a 17 year old to go to Windsor Park and play the way he did against the likes of Michael Gault and Philip Lowrry was exceptional.
“I took a chance and threw Chris and young Jamie Glackin in at the expense of some of our more established players and I was happy with the response.
“I certainly took a lot of positives form the game . . . I learned a lot about certain players and where I’m going as a manager.
“But the bottom line is we must now build on that, starting with Ballinamallard.
They are battling for every point because of the position they now find themselves in at the bottom,” added boss Murphy.
Recent P’ship form (latest on left): Dungannon L-L-L-L-W; Ballinamallard L-L-W-L-L
Last 4 league meetings: Ballinamallard 1 Dungannon 1, Dungannon 1 Ballinamallard 0, Ballinamallard 4 Dungannon 0, Dungannon 0 Ballinamallard 1.
Prediction: Dungannon 1 Ballinamallard Utd 1