Eddie Patterson has dismissed suggestions he has lost the Glentoran dressing room in the wake of a disappointing start to the season.
The Glens sit eighth in the Danske Bank Premiership after picking up just two wins from their opening eight games.
The east Belfast club’s season stalled again on Tuesday night when they crashed out of the County Antrim Shield against Championship 1 underdogs Harland and Wolff Welders.
The Shield exit prompted some fans to take to social media to vent their anger, with some claiming that dressing room unrest was to blame for the poor start.
But as he prepares to take Glentoran to Stangmore Park on Saturday, Patterson has dismissed the criticism, citing ongoing injuries and suspensions as the chief reason for the early-season slump.
“I understand the supporters being frustrated – nobody is more frustrated than I am,” Patterson said.
“They are also entitled to their opinion, but as far as me losing the dressing room is concerned, that’s rubbish.
“The simple fact is that we haven’t been able to cope with the amount of injuries and suspensions we have picked up. We have been missing several key players and we don’t have the squad to deal with that.
“We need players like Jay Magee, Ciaran Caldwell, Jim O’Hanlon, Willie Garrett, Davy Howland, Marcus Kane – they are all big names for us. That’s not me making excuses, it is a simple state of affairs at Glentoran at this moment in time.
“Thankfully we are getting Marcus Kane back this weekend, so that’s a start. And I believe once we get those other players back playing again, fans will see a different Glentoran.
“We also have players who are only returning, or who are maybe lacking in confidence. Fra McCaffrey has hardly kicked a ball this season, while the likes of Scully (David Scullion) and Curtis Allen just need to get that spark back. But it will come.”
Patterson has questioned the attitude of his players following some drab performances this season.
But there was no scathing criticism of Tuesday night’s display against the Welders.
“I was happy enough with the effort. We just didn’t create very much,” he added.
“We had two shots on goal or something which is disappointing. But again, the fact we had to chop and change the starting XI meant we lacked that fluidity and cohesion.
“If we have everyone fit and nobody suspended, then we will see what Glentoran are capable of.”
Patterson will look for improvement from his Glens when they face Dungannon Swifts on Saturday.
“It is a tough place to go, so there will be no hiding place,” he added.
“The table is quite congested, so we know if we can pick up a couple of wins then we will climb a few places.
“We just need to try and get those key players back and then hopefully our results will improve. That is vital for us, to get those players back and fit again.
“If we do then I am confident we will start picking up positive results.”