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Tuesday 23rd October v. Ballyclare Comrades (home) - Toals Co Antrim Shield QF - k.o: 7:45pm

Statement from David Jeffrey
Uploaded Wednesday, 5th Sep, 2018 at 19:30

MANAGER David Jeffrey addresses our supporters on the season so far, players in, players out and injuries.
Bright Start
"We were obviously excited for the start of the season given the number of young players we brought in. Our first challenge was to get the team to gel together, and they have done that. We are constantly reminding them of the style we want to play and the expectations on them on and off the pitch, and we have watched them rising to the challenge of competition for places - I've always said we went out to sign good young players who will relish fighting for their place. Last night alone I was asked by three players why they weren't in the side for last Saturday, which is brilliant because they want to, and feel that they should have been in, and I can't disagree with them. We've explained the reasons that Bryan and I made the selections we did and they all understand and get that. They all have a realistic chance of playing in any game, so it's been good to watch their progression.

I've said it to the press but want to say here to our supporters that in the background we have a team that works incredibly hard, with the likes of Julie Alexander who has come in as our strength and conditioning coach on the back of working with the youth academy, which is not just looking at fitness but also optimising performance and injury prevention. She has done a phenomenal job alongside our physio Gary Crosbie and David Douglas, who has developed our game analysis which has been fabulous. The work behind the scenes and the backing from the club for staff and players, the support Bryan and I get from the administrative point of view is excellent, and has been from the very minute we started with the club.
Matthew Shevlin
Matthew has had some awful fortune with injuries to date. He sustained a shoulder injury away to Glenavon after putting in a great shift and although we felt he was fouled, the referee not only gave the free kick against Matthew, but he also had to come off and ended up at the fracture clinic. He returns for a check-up this Thursday and we are hoping for good news. We want people to continue to support and encourage Matthew to keep the head up - he is a fantastic lad with great potential and his performances so far are an indication of a lot of hard work across pre-season. Going out through injury can be heart breaking for a young player, but he continues to enjoy our confidence here and we want to get him back in as soon as possible.
Jonathan McMurray
After Jonathan's stupendous strike against Crusaders, he sustained a heel injury following a tackle by Howard Beverland. We treated him with tender loving care and tried to nurse the injury along and he thought he was fit and ready to return in the league cup against Dollingstown, but unfortunately he was kicked in the same place within minutes of coming on. Rather than take any risks, Jonathan is taking a few games out. That is not to say that he didn't recover properly, but we just think that as he was susceptible to a re-occurrence we don't want to go through a stop start season like last year. He doesn't want that either and we all want a fully fit Jonathan McMurray on the pitch. We know his ability and he wants to be back playing but he knows that we have to be as sure as we can be that he is fully fit and back to his best.
Joseph McKinney
With regards to Joseph, obviously he came in from Ards and in terms of our first full season he contributed massively, particularly at the tail end when pushing for a top six finish. During pre-season he came and explained about the increasing demands of his day job, and the difficulty to balance with the commitment required by ourselves. We gave him time to consider how he could do both jobs, but he felt that he couldn't do justice to Ballymena United. It was a very honest and honourable approach from Joseph, and so at this moment of time we have agreed a mutual break - he is still very much a Ballymena United player and further down the line if and when he is able to meet the demands of the commitment required he'll be back playing for Ballymena United.
Ciaran Dobbin
Ciaran is a young man who we brought in to the senior squad last year. Over this last period, he has been frustrated with injuries that have made it a bit stop-start for him. The is no doubting his quality in any shape or form and we spoke when the players returned and said let's get him through pre-season and see where we were. As luck would have it, didn't he go on to get injured again. He came back in a under 20's game against Crusaders, and was victim to a horrendous challenge that put him out yet again. In terms of his development we agreed that regular under 20's matches aren't going to do him any good, and in terms of him missing pre-season it would be hard for him to challenge for a first team slot when you consider the players who are ahead of him in their fitness at this time. David Douglas deserves a great deal of thanks for speaking to Knockbreda and opening the door for Ciaran to move, to go out and play regular championship football, with a view to seeing how he progresses. You only have to look at the impact that Knockbreda made on the likes of Bobby Burns and we hope that something like that would be similar for Ciaran.
Connor Farrelly
Connor is a young boy who came home from Celtic last year, and was briefly at Warrenpoint for a short period, but in terms of where his football future lay Paul McAreavey spoke to Connor and worked hard to persuade him that his next best move would be to come to us. He is lacking match fitness as he missed pre-season, but what is evident in abundance in training is his outstanding attacking ability and we are delighted that he has joined us on a two-year contract. Yet again it is a demonstration that with the likes of Connor and Francis Nolan we are planning a future with young men, young legs and people who believe in what we are doing. For Connor to sign for us we are absolutely delighted, he is a tremendous talent.
In Closing
We're too experienced to get carried away with our promising start to the season, we're a little bit frustrated that after such a good result on Saturday we donít have a game now for a couple of weeks but it's like everything, we take it in our stride. We've played every game away from home and the players have got on with it professionally and together so we're pleased of where we have got to but have an awful lot of hard work ahead of us and a long way to go.

Particularly pleasing as always is the support from the stands. I don't think you will ever appreciate how much we appreciate you. The numbers that travelled to Warrenpoint on Saturday, and the acknowledgement that the players got was absolutely first class - onwards and upwards. UBU"