Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter believes there is “more to come” from his champions in the New Year.
The Crues have eased eight points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership and are heavy odds-on favourites to retain the Gibson Cup in 2016.
They remain unbeaten in the league since the opening day of the season, going on a mesmerising 20-game unbeaten run since losing 2-1 to Portadown on August 8.
Next up is Friday’s massive showdown with Linfield at Windsor Park, and Baxter is hoping his players can continue building momentum into the New Year.
“There is still a long way to go this season, and you can be sure that it is going to get tougher before it gets any easier,” Baxter said.
“All we can keep doing is working hard and try and pick up as many positive results as we can.
“Hopefully we can get stronger as the season progresses.
“Sometimes there is pressure when you are leading from the front. Last season we were five points behind when we played Linfield on New Year’s Day.
“So, while eight points is a decent lead, 11 would have been better. We just have to keep the boys focused and work hard and try and improve if we can.
“We just have to prepare for our next game and continue working hard.”