COLIN COATES: ‘Full focus’ as Crusaders kick off title defence against Ards

Danske Bank Premiership Play-Off, Seaview, Belfast 14/4/2018 'Crusaders vs Linfield''Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Stephen Hamilton'Crusaders Colin Coates  at the end of todays game
Danske Bank Premiership Play-Off, Seaview, Belfast 14/4/2018 'Crusaders vs Linfield''Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Stephen Hamilton'Crusaders Colin Coates at the end of todays game

Crusaders skipper Colin Coates is sure that the Shore Road outfit will be fully focused when it comes to defending their Danske Bank Premiership title.

The Crues start the defence of their crown against Ards at Seaview this evening and the captain says they are ready for the challenge that lies ahead and complacency will not on the menu at Seaview.

“There is no way the manager would allow that. We are players that have been around the league and most of us are in our late 20s or early 30s.

“We have been in this game for a long time and you know there is no easy games.

“And since it has gone to a 12 team league it has been very competitive and we know every game is tough.

“Ards are a good side and they will come here on Monday with a plan and in the past they have frustrated us and made it very difficult for us.

“We know what we are uo against and it will be tough. We have to reach the heights we can hit and we have to make sure the commitment and effort is there.”

And Coates is glad that the Crues have signed striker Rory Patterson from Derry City with Jordan Owens out injured.

“We have been crying out for another striker for the last couple of seasons and Jordan Owens has been carrying a heavy burden for us.

“He is now injured but regardless of that we had to bring strikers in and he has done that.

“And Patterson has scored goals where ever he has been . So the prospect of Owens and Patterson playing together is one to look forward to.

“Jordan wins lots of balls and if Rory could feed off that, that will be good for us.

“The two of them will be good together and Gavin Whyte away across the water we could even play with two up-front.

“It gives another attacking option.” he added.

And before their season starts grassroots development remains the aim of the game at Ards.

Central to Colin Nixon’s decision to reject interest from Glentoran and stay as Ards boss was faith in the future.

Nixon is adamant Ards fans can expect continued promotion of the club’s most promising players into first-team action over the forthcoming campaign.

“We made massive reductions last season in the age of the squad and will maintain that investment in youth,” said Nixon.

“We have around 10 or so on the periphery as it stands of the senior side pushing for places this season.

“The young players were given chances last season and grabbed those opportunities.

“Overall, we trust the quality in the squad and will draw on the positives of last season and those experiences.”

Nixon views securing senior states as his Premiership priority.

“Given the size of our budget, staying up has to be the main objective,” he said. “It is a tough, tough league and I’m sure clubs coming up will view us as a potential scalp.

“We respect the quality of those promoted clubs, along of course with those still in the division from last season.

“It takes time for any signings to bed in but we have confidence in the ability in our squad.

“But it does not just come down to ability and you always need the right level of work-rate and overall application to achieve your goals.

“Time will tell but we go into the season with our objectives clear and encouraged by so many positive aspects from last season.”