Irish Premiership: Haveron says Glens must push for Europa League

Glentoran have lost just one of their last eight matches in the Irish Premiership
Glentoran have lost just one of their last eight matches in the Irish Premiership

Gary Haveron says his Glentoran side have to get into a position to compete for European football next season.

During Haveron's two months in charge the Glens have risen from 10th to seventh in the Irish Premiership table by taking 15 points from a possible 27.

But on Saturday the east Belfast men face their toughest task of the season as they go to champions Crusaders.

"We have got to compete with teams like Crusaders. We're Glentoran and this is what is expected of us," said Haveron.

"Crusaders have been winning games with late goals and that is a sign of champions.

"We have to get ourselves into a position to challenge for European football.

"Last week against Ards we had three teenagers on the bench and therein lies our problem. We do not have a lot of strength in depth right now.

"We have quality players at the club. It is just a matter of getting them fit and out on the park."

Linfield won 2-0 away to Carrick Rangers in September
Linfield won 2-0 away to Carrick Rangers in September

Crusaders have won three in a row in the league - all by 1-0 - and have lost only one of their 18 games as they aim for a hat-trick of title successes.

"Glentoran are playing well. The new manager has brought something to them in the last month or two," said Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter.

"They are winning more than they are losing and have a lot of good players. At the start of the season I thought they would be there or thereabouts. They have just taken a bit of time to find their feet."

Crusaders are seven points clear of second-placed Linfield who have a home fixture against Carrick Rangers.

After the setback of losing at home to Cliftonville, David Healy's Blues responded with two resounding victories - 5-0 away to Portadown in the league last Saturday and then a midweek 6-1 hammering of Ards in the County Antrim Shield semi-final.

"Carrick have picked up in the last couple of weeks. Everybody enjoys coming to Windsor Park and we will be ready for them on Saturday," said former Northern Ireland striker Healy.

Ballymena's promising start to the season has faded in recent weeks, with back-to-back defeats at the hands of Dungannon Swifts and Cliftonville.

David Jeffrey's men will look to bag three points at the expense of bottom club Portadown at the Showgrounds.

Irish Premiership 3 December (15:00 GMT)
Coverage on Radio Ulster's Sportsound from 14:00 GMT
Ballymena UnitedvPortadown
CrusadersvGlentoran
LinfieldvCarrick Rangers

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