Paddy McLaughlin admits that, as frustrated as he is by Cliftonville’s injury woes, he welcomes the opportunity to give some of the Club’s young talent their opportunity to shine.
The Manager handed a first Danske Bank Premiership start to 18-year-old striker Calvin McCurry in yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Ballymena United at Solitude, where a change in shape just past the hour mark allowed substitute Donal Rocks (19) to play a positive role in a game that also ended with Peter McKiernan (17) operating up front.
Odhran Casey (17) and 15-year-old Brodie Spencer were unused subs for the occasion, with McLaughlin declaring his faith in the ability of the young guns at his disposal.
“I always say that youth is the future of any Football Club and it doesn’t matter what age you are because if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” he explained.
“Some of them have been given their chance because of the injury problems we have at the minute and you can see they’re hungry to take it.
“Nobody really talks about our injuries but we’ve six out at the minute, with the likes of Levi (Ives), (Jamie) Harney and Thomas Maguire not likely to be back any time soon, then we’ve Aaron Harkin who’s worked so, so hard to get himself back fit after being injured and then he goes down with tonsilitis.
“Ryan Curran wasn’t feeling great before the Ballymena game but he was OK to be on the bench and, yes, the injuries are very frustrating because ideally you’d like to have one or two more experienced heads to call on but I’ve no problem turning to the younger lads because I know they’re good enough and they’ve never let us down.”
On yesterday’s game – which saw Joe Gormley level after Leroy Millar had stroked the Sky Blues in front – McLaughlin added: “We’re disappointed with the result because we target every home game as winnable.
“In the first half, I think a lot of our play was about keeping the ball, there wasn’t much attacking from us.
“In the second half, we attacked in numbers and that’s more like us. We’re a lot better when we do that, so there’s frustration that we’ve seen how good we are when we attack and go for the jugular and do things quicker, but we’ve not been able to get the second goal.
“The change of formation during the game definitely helped us.
“It got us on the front foot a lot more and it suited a lot of our key players. Getting Ryan Curran on the pitch was important and young Donal Rocks was excellent when he came on.
“It also allowed Joe to play higher up and we were able to get Michael McCrudden on the ball more, so that change certainly helped us and it’s something for us to take on board going forward.”