Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin insists his team will require a “professional performance” against Premiership basement side Ards at Clandeboye Park on Tuesday.
The title holders have already enjoyed a certain degree of satisfaction at the County Down venue in recent weeks, but Breslin is quick to dismiss any thoughts of complacency.
“We’ve won there in the League Cup and also in the Premiership, but this will be a totally different test,” said Breslin.
“Ards will be a different animal this time. They have completed good business in the January transfer window, bringing in goalkeeper Alan Blayney along with midfield pair, James Knowles and Sean Cleary.
“They are now scraping for every point to get off the bottom of the table, so we will need to go there and do a professional job in order to come away with the three points.”
Breslin intends to ‘freshen up things’ following his team’s thrilling Irish Cup draw with Coleraine at the weekend.
“I’ll probably make a few changes,” he adds. “Ryan Catney was on the subs’ bench on Saturday, so he’ll most probably come back in, while Eamon Saydak missed out due to a little niggling injury. He’ll also be available.
“Ciaran Caldwell and Stephen Garrett are on the way back following long term injuries.
“Caldwell played half a game for the reserves on Friday night, so he is making steady progress. Stephen is stepping up his rehab, but he’s probably about three of four weeks away from a return.
“I’d no complaints with the result on Saturday . . . it was a great cup tie. Both teams really went for it which made it a bit of a thriller for both sets of fans, who were brilliant.
“Credit to Coleraine, they came with a positive attitude. Realistically, it was probably their last chance of gleaning any silverware this season, so they give it a real go.
“Their performance also indicated their are in a false place in terms of their league position. If they keep playing like that, they’ll not be long shooting up the table.”
Breslin insists he will not play any part in the January transfer window – he’s happy with what he’s got. With a front two of Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley, he possesses the most dynamic strike force in the country.
“Big Joe is unplayable at times,” he adds. “He scored two in our last league game against Glenavon to bring his tally for the season to 28, which is incredible for this time of the year.
“Basically, when he gets the ball in front of him around the penalty box, everyone expects the net to bulge. He’s a great talent and has formed a wonderful understanding with Boycie.
“I reckon we have adequate cover all over the pitch, so I’ve really no interest in the current transfer window.”
Breslin also rules out any lingering involvement in the possible transfer of Portadown midfielder Kevin Braniff.
“Definitely not . . . that avenue is completely closed.”
With third placed Crusaders having opened up a six point gap on Glentoran, Breslin concedes the title race could well develop into a three-horse race.
“It’s going to take something special from Glentoran and Portadown to get back up there,” he added. “In saying that, if you can manage to string four or five wins on the bounce it can have a dramatic impact.
“Linfield are looking very strong. They were obviously hurt last season by losing the title and bought well in the summer.”