Glentoran manager Alan Kernaghan admits his team are entering the ‘last chance saloon’ when they face Glenavon in Saturday’s crunch Tennent’s Irish Cup sixth round showdown at The Oval.
The east Belfast boys are struggling to hold on to a top six place in the league table – and, having suffered a demoralising fourth successive defeat by Warrenpoint Town last time out – their chances of achieving European football hinge firmly on their next outing.
“It’s a big game, there is no question about that,” said Kernaghan.
“It could well be our last chance to hang on to a possible European place, which would be financially beneficial to the club.
“I’m not saying our season depends on it – we still have a lot to play for in terms of the rest of the league campaign. The reality is, the cup is now our only hope of winning a trophy and, of course, Europe is very important.”
With their proposed league game against Glenavon postponed due to the weather last weekend, it prevented the prospect of back to back games between the clubs, something that Kernaghan wasn’t totally unhappy about.
“They can be problematic,” he adds.
“So we start with a clean slate. I had the chance to watch Glenavon’s midweek win over Carrick Rangers. They won with plenty to spare.
“I would suspect there will be a few changes to the side. They have a great squad of players, especially with the likes of Kevin Braniff and Ciaran Martyn back fit again, so we’ll have our work cut out.”
Keanaghan stressed it took him quite a bit of time to come to terms with his team’s last outing – a 4-0 home drubbing by Warrenpoint Town.
“It was a huge disappointment,” he added.
“It simply wasn’t a Glentoran performance. We made it too easy for them.
“There was a lack of desire – lack of passion and lack of fight. We’ve all sat down and had a good chat about it – everyone spoke openly about it. The boys have trained well since that game.
“It’s now time to look forward, not back. The cup tie is a one-off game – anything can happen. We must be sure we are up for it.”
Kernaghan’s problems are exasperated due to the fact that centre back Jay Magee must sit out due to suspenson.
The manager is hoping that goalkeeper Elliott Morris passes a late fitness test.
“Magee’s absence is a blow,” added.
“Elliott has been struggling with a back problem, but he trained on Tuesday. Hopefully, he’ll be ready.
“We have to look at this game as a chance to keep our season on the boil.”