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Former NI team-mates set to renew acquaintances

DESPITE the fact that Darragh Park was under water due to the torrential rain last weekend, Dergview boss Ivan Sproule was hopeful that today’s crucial Bluefin Sport Championship clash against Ards would go ahead as scheduled.

And the former Hibs player is demanding an improvement from his players in ensuring that they avoid the same sinking feeling they experienced last season.

Back-to-back defeats to Queens and the PSNI, has left the Castlederg outfit joint bottom of the table and everyone around the club in need of a pick-me-up as they prepare to meet an Ards team, who are among the favourites for promotion.

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The meeting of the sides will also give Sproule the opportunity to put one over his good friend and former international team-mate Warren Feeney, the current Ards manager.

“I suppose we’ll not know if there is any lasting damage to the drainage of the pitch until the next time it rains heavily but we’re hopeful it will be OK for Saturday,” he said.

“We want the game on. Three defeats in a week is the reality.

“Warren has got a real challenge on his hands at Ards with probably different expectations. They would be expected to be promoted and I know Warren harbours those ambitions. He’s finding that the league is unforgiving and unless you’re at your best you don’t get three points. But, he’s like myself, in that he demands everything of his players.

“It’s going to be a tough task but it should be a good game.”

Sproule missed the last three games, including the League Cup clash at Dungannon Swifts, owing to a family holiday in France.

Despite a 2-0 defeat, the performance against Premiership opponents Swifts was very encouraging but the losses at both Queens and PSNI were hugely disappointing and has left Sproule and his players with much work to do over the coming weeks.

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Sproule said he can accept losing any game of football but insisted lack of effort and poor performances can’t be tolerated.

“The squad is still strong, it might take a bit of tinkering but hopefully we can get a performance on Saturday,” he continued.

“We need points, it’s as simple as that. We have lost three games in a row, everybody is under pressure to end that losing run. We know ourselves what we need to do. First and foremost I can deal with losing but what I can’t deal with is a lack of a performance.

‘There has been too many poor performances. The players owe it to themselves on Saturday, owe to the club and the supporters to get themselves back on track.

“We had the situation last year where we were in a mess and had to get out of it. We’re not in a mess at the minute but it wouldn’t take too many more games to find yourself in bother.

“I suppose the good thing at the minute is there only is that six point swing but if you find yourself in a situation were it is 14 or 15 points then the mountain starts to get bigger. We need points on the board and sooner rather than later.”

Marc McConnell, Philip Wallace and Sproule himself are all expected to return to today’s squad. Kick-off 3pm

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