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Stand up and be counted: Magilton

Jim Magilton says that North Belfast Derbies are occasions that demand players “stand up and be counted”.

Tonight sees Cliftonville return to Sports Direct Premiership action following a fortnight’s break and, having already come up against Larne, Linfield and Glentoran during his brief stint at the helm thus far, the Reds boss expects another thorough examination at Seaview.

“Serious questions will be asked,” he said.

“We’ve played the top three from last year, we now play Crusaders in a local derby away from home and you have to stand up and be counted and it’s a game you should relish.

“We’ve been competitive in every League game, not so much in the Cup games. We had a bright start against Carrick and got punished; we had a bright start against Raith Rovers and got punished – we’ve had to take them on the chin as lessons learned. We have to learn from decisions, mistakes and errors that we’ve made and that have cost us.”

Last weekend’s SPFL Trust Trophy joust with Raith bore similarities to those aforementioned Premiership encounters, with Cliftonville unable to capitalise when on top before ultimately greeting the final whistle with frustration.

Magilton, though, sees positives to harness – not least the game time he has afforded to young guns such as Stephen McGuinness, Jack Berry, Shea Kearney and new recruit Reece Jordan.

“We played against a side that’s very confident at the minute and it would have been interesting had we taken our chances,” he said of the outing at Stark’s Park.

“Certainly, they would have had to press the game more but there’s no excuses for us turning the ball over. We’re a team that are quite used to the press and you have to be brave and courageous enough to play under that sort of pressure.

“I’ve great faith in the kids, I like them a lot, I think they’re good players and the more experiences they get at this level, I think it’s going to stand them in good stead for the future.”