Warren Feeney: New Ards boss is 'buzzing' for Irish Premiership relegation battle

Ards manager Warren Feeney

New Ards boss Warren Feeney has said he is relishing the club's battle to avoid relegation from the Irish Premiership.

The former Northern Ireland striker has taken over at the basement club until the end of the season following Colin Nixon's sacking.

Ards are three points behind 11th-placed Newry City, who they play in a vital fixture on Saturday, and 14 points from the safety of 10th place.

"I'm buzzing for it," the former Linfield manager told BBC Sport NI.

"My first game as manager is against the team that is three points above us - you couldn't ask for more."

While admitting finishing in the 11th-place relegation play-off spot may be the club's best chance of avoiding going down, Feeney is upbeat about his new role.

"I was in a relegation battle as a player with Bournemouth and with Newport County as a manager, and we managed to avoid relegation, so I know what it takes," he continued.

Feeney won 46 caps for Northern Ireland
Feeney won 46 caps for Northern Ireland

"I will be setting the players a points target for the next four games that I think we need to get. I need to change the mentality straight away, but I know it won't be easy.

"I know we are going to lose games and I don't want to say we are going to carry off a miracle, but we are going to give ourselves every chance.

"I will put my points across to the players and they have got to stand up and be counted. It will be hard work because I like everything to be intense."

'I haven't said no to anything'

Having initially taken on the Ards job until the end of the season, Feeney has not ruled out staying in the post beyond this campaign - even if Ards were to be relegated.

"I had a decent career in England but was never one of those footballers who gets carried away with the high life," the former Leeds United striker explained.

"I spoke to the Ards chairman and I haven't said no to anything. We decided to get to the end of the season and sit down again if he wants to.

"It's another challenge on the wheel and hopefully one where I could get Ards back to where they should be."

Feeney to focus on strikers

Linfield were top of the league when Feeney left them for Newport
Linfield were top of the league when Feeney left them for Newport

Feeney was in charge of Linfield for 18 months after replacing David Jeffrey in 2014, but left to become John Sheridan's assistant manager at Newport County in October 2015.

He went on to manage the Welsh side but was sacked in 2016, before having brief stints as assistant manager at Crawley Town and Notts County.

The 38-year was a player-manager during his spell at Windsor Park and, while he has no intentions for now of playing for his new club, he does plan to work hard with his strikers to improve their goal threat.

"I won't be playing. With the position that we are in at the moment, the sole focus has to be on management and getting my points across," Feeney added.

"Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in football, but it's just a confidence thing.

"I'm very much for my strikers going away on their own for 20 minutes during training and getting used to shooting and finding the back of the net.

"If you do it in training, you can take it into a match. If we can stay in games then we will get chances and our strikers need to be ready to take those chances."

Ards have nine games left in this season's Irish Premiership, having won three and lost 21 of their games so far.

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