Coleraine boss Kearney surprised by Brad Lyons comeback

Coleraine player Brad Lyons wore a bespoke carbon fibre mask in his comeback match against Crusaders
Coleraine's Brad Lyons wore a bespoke carbon fibre mask in his comeback match against Crusaders

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney says he was astounded at how quickly Brad Lyons returned to action after suffering serious facial injuries.

The 20-year-old was a substitute last week and could make his first start since the incident in Saturday's home game against Carrick Rangers.

Lyons has been wearing a specially-made carbon fibre protective mask.

He came on as a sub in the 1-1 draw with Crusaders last Saturday, six weeks after being injured against Linfield.

"For him to be back on a pitch six weeks later is astounding," said Kearney.

"He broke both cheekbones and his nose, and had four plates and three screws inserted in his face.

"We invested a bit of money in getting him a top quality mask.

"The surgeon and the doctors were happy for him to play and he showed why he is such an important player for us."

Jordan Owens of Crusaders competes against Daniel Larmour of Carrick
Carrick lost 1-0 away to Crusaders in the semi-finals of the County Antrim Shield

Coleraine, who sit six points clear of Crusaders and Glenavon at the top of the league table, will be expected to pick up three points away to one-from-bottom Carrick who have lost six in a row in the league.

But Rangers manager David McAlinden was heartened by his side's display in Tuesday's 1-0 County Antrim Shield defeat by Crusaders.

"There was a quiet determination in that display," said the Carrick boss.

"We need to show the same attitude against Coleraine - it is the least our paying fans deserve."

Carrick will be without midfielder Mark Clarke for the Coleraine clash because he was sent off in that Shield game at Seaview, but Aaron Smyth is back from a suspension.

Crusaders, in second place on goal difference, are at home to Glentoran on Saturday with boss Stephen Baxter hoping to have a couple of players back in the squad after injury.

"It is important we keep our recent record going with the roll we are on," said Baxter.

"But Glentoran came to Seaview last season and got a draw. We will have a game plan."

Cliftonville celebrate a goal during their 5-0 win over Ballinamallard United
Cliftonville's four league victories in November included a 5-0 home win over Ballinamallard

Glenavon, whose impressive run was ended by a home defeat by Linfield last time out, travel to take on Ards.

The visitors from Lurgan will not want to be reminded about their most recent visit to the Clandeboye Road which was a 4-0 League Cup defeat on 17 October.

Fourth-placed Cliftonville, who won all their matches in November without conceding a goal, will aim to keep the superb run going when they travel to manager Barry Gray's former club Warrenpoint Town.

Champions Linfield, down in fifth but buoyed by recent wins over Glenavon and Coleraine, are at home to Dungannon Swifts.

Blues midfielder Aaron Burns has been ruled out of the trip to Stangmore Park because of a knee injury.

Meanwhile Ballymena United, impressive Shield winners over Ards in midweek, host bottom-placed Ballinamallard United.

Ballymena boss David Jeffrey reports an increasing injury list, with Emmett Friars, Willie Faulkner and Conor McCloskey all picking up injuries in Tuesday 3-0 win.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - Saturday 2 December
Live coverage on BBC Sport website and Radio Ulster
Ballymena UnitedvBallinamallard United
Carrick RangersvColeraine
LinfieldvDungannon Swifts
Warrenpoint TownCliftonville

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