Changes for Crues

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter admits he intends to reshuffle his pack ahead of tomorrow’s Irish Cup fifth round tie against Newington YC at Seaview.

His hand is forced in the case of defender Josh Robinson, who misses out due to suspension, but new signings Barry Molloy and Stephen O’Flynn will be given a first start since moving to the Shore Road club from Derry City and Institute.

“I would hope to be in a position to tinker a little bit with the squad,” said Baxter, whose team last week moved to the top of the Premiership table following their win over Ballinamallard United.

“A lot of boys played three games in nine days over the holiday period, so I would expect to make a few changes. When you have five lads sitting on the bench (against Ballinamallard) that could play in any team, it puts us in a good position.

“We’ll certainly be taking nothing for granted. We know all about Newington and how dangerous they can be. But it’s a squad game.

“We are going to need everyone, so it will be good for some of them to get a bit of game time. The injuries and suspensions will be piling up. We lose Josh this week. I think Craig McClean and Colin Coates are also looking at bans further down the road. We’ll have to deal with that.”

Baxter believes the return of Robinson since injury has been key to the Crues charge to the top.

He added: “Since Josh came back into the team it coincided with an uplift in performances. We’ve got a nice balance with Coates and Robinson both playing at the top of their game.

“For me, Richard Clarke has been sensational in four or five games. We have a lot of key people now playing well, so it helps crank up the competition for places.”