'The effort's never been the problem' - Swifts boss Shiels admits confidence is low ahead of Linfield game

Shiels has lost five of his six games in charge of Dungannon
Shiels has lost five of his six games in charge of Dungannon
Irish Premiership
Date: Saturday, 3 April
Coverage: Sportsound on BBC Radio Ulster & BBC Sounds; audio, in-goal clips and text updates on the BBC Sport website, followed by a live video stream of Dungannon Swifts v Linfield at 17:30 BST on the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer

Dungannon Swifts manager Dean Shiels has admitted his side are suffering from a lack of confidence as they prepare to host Linfield on Saturday.

The Swifts secured their first win under Shiels against Crusaders but have followed that with heavy defeats by Ballymena United and Glenavon.

Shiels says he is still learning about his team ahead a possible summer rebuild at Stangmore Park.

"The effort's never been the problem," said the former Rangers midfielder.

"Them lads will give everything, but obviously we're making silly mistakes, confidence is low, we're lacking quality in certain areas - it's as simple as that."

Shiels has experienced a baptism by fire during the embryonic stages of his managerial career with the 36-year-old having lost five of his six games in charge since replacing Kris Lindsay at the start of March.

The former Northern Ireland international praised his side's character after the shock success over Crusaders on 23 March.

But having since slumped to demoralising reverses against Ballymena and Glenavon in two games that saw the Swifts concede nine goals, Shiels admits the intense fixture schedule is taking its toll on his players.

"We've had so many games, we're part-time players and the games are coming and coming," he added.

"The lads are working hard at their jobs today and it's just getting too much for some of them."

While Shiels will have looked to resurrect his players' confidence levels after Tuesday's 4-0 loss to Glenavon, Linfield head to Stangmore on Saturday after enjoying a rare midweek off.

The leaders won six of their eight games in March and head to Dungannon with history very much on their side in recent meetings between the two clubs.

Shayne Lavery and Joel Cooper were on target in Linfield's 2-0 win over Dungannon in March
Shayne Lavery and Joel Cooper were on target in Linfield's 2-0 win over Dungannon in March

One of those March games was a 2-0 win over the Swifts at Windsor Park, while the Blues have picked up three points in each of their last nine visits to Stangmore stretching back to 2014, scoring 28 goals in that sequence.

Dungannon goalkeeper Sam Johnston is a doubt for the game after colliding with the woodwork in the Glenavon defeat, while Rory Patterson is suspended.

Linfield's Joel Cooper is also suspended and Healy last week admitted he was not sure when Blues captain Jamie Mulgrew will return from injury.

The Dungannon-Linfield match will follow a busy programme of 15:00 BST kick-offs with second-placed Coleraine hoping to narrow the gap on the champions to four points with a win at home to Glenavon.

The Bannsiders kept up their title chase on Tuesday with victory over Larne and another three points will be the perfect preparation for Oran Kearney's side ahead of their trip to Linfield on 7 April.

Glentoran hope to make it four wins on the bounce when they host Portadown while Larne aim to bounce back from that loss at Coleraine by beating Carrick Rangers.

Were Larne to suffer another slip-up, however, Cliftonville could move ahead of the Invermen in the race for European football with success away to Warrenpoint Town.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership - 3 April, 15:00 BST unless stated
LarnevCarrick Rangers
Warrenpoint Town vCliftonville
Dungannon SwiftsvLinfield (17:30 BST)

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