Tommy Breslin believes Cliftonville could have a psychological edge over their title rivals after returning to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.
Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Ballymena United saw the Reds go one point clear of Linfield at the summit.
It was the second victory in four days for Breslin’s side, following their gutsy 1-0 win over the Blues last Saturday.
And despite Linfield holding a game in hand, Breslin is confident his players will relish the challenge of leading from the front.
“It gives you a psychological boost when you go top of the table. I am delighted we have managed to get back to the top,” Breslin said.
“Linfield may have a game in hand, but we can only look after ourselves and we have pulled off two massive results in the space of four days.
“We are now down to 10 league games between now and the end of the season, and we still have to play Linfield after the split. So the title remains in our own hands.
“If we win all our games we will retain the title.
“It is a massive challenge, but it is one we are looking forward to.
“It should act as added motivation to the players.
“Our aim is string a run of wins together.
“All we can do now is look after our own results. We can’t worry about other clubs.”
An impressive run of form has seen Cliftonville usurp Linfield at the Premiership summit.
The Reds have won nine of their last 11 league outings to remain on course to retain the Gibson Cup.
They also retained their League Cup crown 12 days ago with a penalty shootout victory over Crusaders, and Breslin believes his players are gradually building momentum as they enter the final furlong of the season.
“We’re on a decent run of form, but I still believe we can play better,” the Solitude boss added.
“The players are actually giving off because I keep demanding more.
“I’ve probably been guilty of whinging, but I do believe we have been wasteful at times and not picked the right pass in recent games. We’ve been guilty of forcing things, so there is always room for improvement.”
Next up for Cliftonville in the Premiership is another huge North Belfast derby, with Crusaders returning to Solitude on February 15.