Premiership teams face key matches on Tuesday night

John Currie of Ballinamallard and Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew
John Currie of Ballinamallard and Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew

The outcomes of Tuesday night's three rearranged Irish Premiership fixtures will have a major bearing on the top, middle and bottom of the league table.

Linfield face struggling Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park as they aim to keep in touch with leaders Crusaders.

Coleraine host Glenavon in a match which will have a big impact on both sides' ambitions of making the top six ahead of the league split in March.

Institute entertain Dungannon Swifts in a very significant match at the bottom.

Linfield have recruited former Northern Ireland international Grant McCann and Glenn Belezika since beating Tobermore United in their fifth round Irish Cup tie on 10 January and lie seven points behind the in-form Crues with two games in hand.

Mallards manager Whitey Anderson described his side's display in their 7-0 hammering by Warrenpoint Town on Friday night as "totally unacceptable, the worst performance of my nine years in charge".

"The game against Linfield can't come quick enough after that result. Our form at home has been decent but we will have to play a lot better than we did at Milltown.

"We are now in a relegation battle with three other teams and we must sort out our away from which has been abysmal - we all have to go away and look at ourselves."

Mark Haughey and Jimmy Callacher are close to making a return after injury for the Blues but Tuesday's game might come too soon for the duo while Ivan Sproule is a fitness doubt for the Ferney Park encounter.

Meanwhile Coleraine boss Oran Kearney admits his team must beat the Lurgan Blues to have any chance of making the top six.

"If we don't win on Tuesday night it will be a very tall order to topple Glenavon," said Kearney, who will have recent signing Ruaidhri Higgins available for the first time.

"We have had three or four key players missing at an important stage of the season and it's imperative to get guys back sooner rather than later.

"Our first XI on paper excites me but we are probably a few weeks away from getting close to that. There will be nothing in the game on Tuesday but we need to show more quality in the final third as we have to start putting the ball in the back of the net."

Glenavon coach Nigel Law also recognises the importance of the match at Ballycastle Road, adding that "at this stage of the season style goes out the window and it's all about results".

"We must try to keep the momentum we have built up going. Hopefully we can take the points off Coleraine and move a step closer to where we want to be.

"They are the only team we haven't taken a point against so far this season and they're a very honest, hard working team so we will give them a lot of respect.

"They've scored late goals to beat us and I expect another combative, competitive game - we know what three points would mean in terms of boosting our own ambitions and denting Coleraine's hopes."

Basement side Institute lie four points behind the ninth-placed Swifts ahead of their meeting at Drumahoe but 'Stute captain Paddy McLaughlin expects an entertaining game between "two sides who try to play attractive football".

"We don't want to be cut adrift at the bottom but it's up to us to get some results, especially against other sides who are fighting for survival," said McLaughlin, who must sit out the key contest because of suspension.

Dungannon manager Darren Murphy warned that the game against Institute "is one we cannot afford to lose".

"The two matches between the sides this season have been drawn so there isn't much to choose between the teams. We need to go there with the right attitude," explained Murphy.

Danske Bank Premiership - Tuesday 27 January - 20:00 GMT kick-offs

Ballinamallard Utd v Linfield

Coleraine v Glenavon

Institute v Dungannon Swifts

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