County Antrim Shield: Crusaders and Linfield favourites to make final

Media playback is not supported on this device

Stephen Baxter's Crusaders lost to Linfield on penalties in the 2014 Shield decider

The Irish Premiership's top two, Crusaders and Linfield, will start as favourites to win Tuesday night's County Antrim Shield semi-finals.

League leaders Crusaders host PSNI, who lie fifth in the Championship table, as they bid to reach the 24 January final.

The Blues, last season's beaten finalists, entertain an Ards side who knocked out holders Ballymena United at the quarter-final stage.

Linfield secured their last silverware by collecting the Shield in March 2014.

Crusaders players celebrate their winner
David Cushley scored the winner as Crusaders beat Glentoran 2-1 after extra-time in the quarter-finals last month

Crues boss Stephen Baxter has reshuffled his pack for midweek fixtures in the knockout competitions in recent weeks and looks set to make changes for the visit of PSNI.

"We have got to think clearly about what is in front of us but we will approach the match in the professional manner we always do and will be going all-out to win the game and make a final," explained Baxter.

"We've had to target certain competitions this year and work out what we can do with the squad.

"We have one or two injuries around and that always plays a part, but we have very capable players on the sidelines wanting to play."

Media playback is not supported on this device

Ards manager Niall Currie led his side to last season's League Cup final

Ards boss Niall Currie is also contemplating his selection options, with a crucial top-flight home game against Ballinamallard United to come on Friday night.

"We have a small squad and we have to look at the game against Linfield and make some decisions on that because the clash with Ballinamallard is huge - it's a match we believe we can win.

"We have got to target that match and have everyone out on the pitch that we want out on the pitch.

"Having said that, we will give it everything on Tuesday night and the way we are playing at the moment, we should give a good account of ourselves.

"We are pleased to be in the last four of another senior competition and want the players to go out to enjoy it and express themselves."

Top Stories