Managing the squad key for OK

COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney insists he is glad football is back after watching his side defeat Ballyclare Comrades yesterday afternoon…

The Bannsiders would make it a third successive win from their pre-season schedule as Lee Lynch, James McLaughlin, Caiolan Brennan and Aaron Jarvis got on the scoresheet against their Championship opponents.

Injuries have meant several first-team stars are yet to get any game time with Kearney acknowledging that some players have banked more minutes than others so far.

“We are glad to get back at it and I’m happy enough with the last three games,” he said.

“For us, it has probably been the same faces as we have a lot of players carrying a few aches and pains from the end of last season.

“We are trying to be ultra careful in relation to we are taking that little bit of extra time to make sure the rehab is proper and when they’re back, they’re back and we don’t have any breakdowns.

“With that, it has been sort of fortunate for the guys who’ve played so far because everybody’s grunt in pre-season is not getting enough minutes quick enough.

“From their point of view, they are delighted because they’re getting to play and get as many minutes as possible.

“Ideally, with a three game week coming up now and a bigger squad, we are able to manage minutes more than anything else.

“We’ll be smart, we were going to train on Monday night but we have decided that we won’t as we don’t want to push people too hard more than anything else.”

One positive yesterday afternoon was the return of Conor McKendry who impressed during a first-half cameo and Kearney revealed that a few members of his squad are also not too far away from making their comeback.

“We do expect to get them back for the start of the season,” he added,

“Our expectations are high that we will see them sooner rather than later.

“Stephen Lowry, Stephen O’Donnell and Lyndon Kane have all come on well, so if you even take those three alone, they are three big players for us and we are hopeful that they will be back on the pitch maybe this week or next.

“Conor looked like the Conor at the very beginning of last season where he had about four shots in the opening 15 minutes.

“He’s just that Duracell bunny that loves to play football and it looked like four or five months of pent-up frustration and the want to get back out playing again.

“He’s one of those that we could have rushed back into pre-season but we’ve been ultra careful and put a load of training into him.

“He looked fresh, bubbly, ready to go and wanted to play 90 minutes but the plan was to play 45.

“I warned him before that he was only going to play 45 and don’t even come to me which he did, which is brilliant and what you want but on the same stretch, we’ve got to make sure that we look after him.”

Kearney has added Lee Lynch, Dean Jarvis and Jack O’Mahony to his squad this summer and all three started yesterday’s contest.

However, with the transfer window still firmly open, the boss hasn’t ruled out further arrivals.

“It was good for Jack to play and he came here with a bit of a niggle,” he continued.

“With a new club, he wanted to train and play, but we managed that niggle and he’s done a load more training than he would have wanted to before unleashing him into games and everything that comes with it.

“That’s him fresh, fit, ready to go and we can now involve him in all the games and without the risk of picking up anything.

“We are hopeful for business and we are always looking to do something.

“It’s just a tough market at this moment in time but there are a couple of things in the pipeline and hopefully this week or beyond, things start to move.”