Carrick Rangers boss Gary Haveron insists Premiership strugglers Institute are favourites going into Saturday’s Irish Cup sixth-round clash at Taylor’s Avenue.
A miserable run of results means the Drumahoe outfit are without a league victory in 15 attempts but Haveron believes Paul Kee’s charges will view the last-16 match as a welcome distraction from their top-flight woes.
“In us, they are playing a team in a lower division, so that automatically puts them as favourites,” Haveron contended.
“Form is irrelevant, really. The truth of the matter is we are sitting fifth in the Championship and, yes, they may be bottom of the Premiership but they are playing against stiffer opposition every week.
“That said, in any game we play, we go into it with the objective of winning. I have every faith in my players. They have done me proud to get us to this point but we want to see how far we can go in the Irish Cup. We want to test ourselves against the bigger teams.”
Haveron’s squad is brimming with confidence. They have already bagged a trophy in the form of the Steel and Sons Cup, and have lost just twice in all competitions this season. In fact, the last time they tasted defeat was in early October - 122 days ago, to be precise - against Cliftonville in the League Cup at Solitude.
But, with ‘Stute having netted a 5-1 win over Loughgall in the last round, the Carrick chief is taking nothing for granted. “We are under no illusions, it’s going to be an extremely tough game for us but it’s one I’m looking forward to because Institute are a footballing side.”
Carrick will be without the services of right-back Aaron Smyth who is suspended, while ‘Stute will have a new man between the sticks following the departure of Saul Deeney. Marty Gallagher is likely to wear the number one jersey.