Boss is focused on promotion bid

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CARRICK boss Stephen Small couldn’t help but raise a little laugh when told former Taylor’s Avenue favourite Michael Hughes had indicated in a television interview that Rangers’ aim is to be playing in the Carling Premiership next season, qualify for Europe the following year and try to win the top-flight title in season 2013-14.

“No pressure on the manager, then,” quipped Small who has just returned from a family break.

“The club has already expressed its ambitions and it is nice to have on board somebody whose whole life has been steeped in football.

“We’re on course to achieve the first part of those stated aims and it is probably best not to look beyond our bid for promotion at this stage,” added the manager.

The BBC feature on ex-Northern Ireland international Hughes didn’t state what his role with the club is, but chairman David Hilditch revealed to the Times that Hughes is a member of the board and is now the majority shareholder at the club.

Other plans mentioned in the interview, which was broadcast at the weekend, included developing a football academy and the hopes of installing a 3G pitch as Carrick strive to be firmly established as the top club in the East Antrim area.

Small is this weekend looking forward to a testing tie at home to Bangor in the IFA Championship One on Saturday.

The last few weeks have seen the frustration of bad-weather postponements replaced by the pressure of cup competitions and two wins in four days have set Carrick Rangers up for a tilt at three different titles.

And the manager, who was absent from Saturday’s 3-1 win over Dromara Village in the WKD Core Intermediate Cup, is pleased with how things are going for his table-topping team right now.

“I wasn’t at Saturday’s game but I understand it was fairly comfortable, coming from a goal down at half-time to win 3-1 with strikes from Anto Lagan, Glen Hand and Paul Heatley.

“That was pleasing after the great midweek replay win over Shankill United in the Irish Cup - a clash that I was just a little bit nervous about after Cliftonville had been dumped out the night before by Warrenpoint United.

“That may have helped the boys focus on the job in hand but, for whatever reason, they did a thoroughly professional job and it was a case of Shankill perhaps discovering that there is a fair bit of difference between the grade they play in and where we are – something that probably was not their opinion after the original game.”

Rangers had been earmarked for another Intermediate Cup clash this weekend, but the recent postponements have left some teams a round behind and Rangers won’t discover who they will face in the next round until Saturday.