Irish Premiership: Crusaders and Linfield face crucial matches

Crusaders hope to have 16-goal striker Jordan Owens in their team against Cliftonville
Crusaders hope to have 16-goal striker Jordan Owens in their team against Cliftonville

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter has urged his faltering title holders to be more positive as they attempt to fend off the challenge of rivals Linfield.

Two months ago the Crues were nine points clear at the top of the Irish Premiership but they go into Saturday's games with a mere one-point advantage.

Crusaders are away to Cliftonville while Linfield go to Ballymena United.

"It is important for us to express ourselves and go out to win something rather than defend it," said Baxter.

How they stand in the top half of the Irish Premiership season
How they stand in the top half of the Irish Premiership season

Back-to-back title winners Crusaders have lost their last two Premiership fixtures, most recently last weekend's top two clash away to Linfield.

Their main striker Jordan Owens missed the defeat at Windsor Park because of a calf injury and Baxter is hoping to have him back for the trip to Solitude.

"He has been having intensive treatment and we are giving him very opportunity to play," said the Seaview boss.

Linfield have won five in a row in the run-in and skipper Jamie Mulgrew believes they will need to maintain that 100% form to be in with a chance of dethroning the Crues.

"If we do not win all of our remaining games I think it is bust for us really - the pressure is on us to keep winning," he said.

"We have been treating every game as a cup final and it seems to be working for us. We are making a fight of it and it is all to play for.

"It is important we treat every team with respect and don't get carried away with ourselves."

Danske Bank Irish Premiership
Coverage on Radio Ulster's Sportsound
Ballymena UnitedvLinfield
CliftonvillevCrusaders
ColerainevGlenavon
Carrick RangersvArds
Dungannon SwiftsvGlentoran

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