We can tackle fixture backlog, says Hughes

Catch me if you can: Rangers' Correy Davidson opens a gap down the right in Saturday's friendly against Shankill United.
Catch me if you can: Rangers' Correy Davidson opens a gap down the right in Saturday's friendly against Shankill United.

CARRICK Rangers boss Michael Hughes may be disappointed and a little bit frustrated – but he is not overly worried about the consequences of the constant loss of matches to the weather after Saturday’s scheduled match away to Dergview was postponed.

Carrick now have five league fixtures outstanding, but Hughes is confident his team can work to what will be a tight schedule.

“We have something like 14 weeks left in the season and we have 15 league games to fit into that period, so it’s not an especially demanding programme – so long as we don’t hit more bad weather,” explained Hughes, a former Northern Ireland international.

“I have to say I was surprised the Dergview match was called off at the weekend. But at least we weren’t sitting idle as we were able to get a friendly fitted in against Shankill United, a decent wee side. We won 3-0 but the result wasn’t that important, it was the fact that we got virtually everybody a bit of match action.

“Apart from one player who, understandably, put work commitments ahead of the friendly game, all the players got a minimum of 30 minutes on the pitch and I was happy with how we played and what I saw. It certainly is an improved squad from the evidence there,” said Hughes, who was disappointed that he didn’t get either of the two players whom he was hoping tp sign last week.

“I didn’t manage to get the one who’d have been a really superb recruit, while I tried very hard to persuade the other guy to join us. But he had work commitments and he ultimately decided that his work comes first.

“I have signed Neil Harkin, a Derry guy who was playing with Institute. He is a good, quality midfielder who likes to get the ball and knock it about and I think he will prove a fine acquisition.

“So, that’s eight players in and five who have gone. I am happy with the business done during the transfer window and I believe we have a considerably stronger squad now than we had before.

“We have 15 matches left and I think we will benefit from playing regular football between now and the end of the season.

“Normally you have a stop-start situation at this time because of the interruption of cup competitions either for your own team’s involvement or that of the opposition. But I think we will get a programme of regular games going and hopefully find a bit of a rhythm.

“And, again with my fingers firmly crossed, I hope that will start on Saturday with a trip to Hagan Park to play Coagh United - a tough enough assignment,” said Hughes.

Carrick’s five outstanding match are against Loughgall, Warrenpoint Town, Dundela, Larne and Dergview – and some would say Rangers will now be better prepared to bid for the precious points that will steer them clear of relegation trouble, as they sit just a point above bottom club Bangor.

“Some might say that we may benefit because the squad is stronger, but other clubs will have added players to their panels and they will be better equipped to face us, so it’s a bit like swings and roundabouts, I suppose,” added the Rangers manager.