Irish Premiership: Crusaders getting over 'European hangover' - Baxter

Irish Premiership: Crusaders getting over 'European hangover' - Baxter
Irish Premiership: Crusaders getting over 'European hangover' - Baxter
Jordan Owens and Aaron Traynor in action when the sides last met at Seaview

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter says his side are "getting over a European hangover" as they aim to build momentum into their league title defence at home to Coleraine on Monday night.

The champions boast seven points from their first four league fixtures.

"We had two European away trips in a month and we were playing against unbelievable opposition," said Baxter.

"There's a lot of effort goes in around all of that - it's not an excuse, it's just something that you see."

The Crues have won two, drawn one and lost one of their games in the new Premiership campaign but expect a stiff test at the hands of a Coleraine team who pushed them all the way in last year's title race.

"I just think there may have been a European hangover but we're starting to see them come out of that. You're asking players to do an awful lot of work.

"People are asking if the full-time training is asking too much of the players but the only thing we have done in full-time training so far is do recovery sessions and stretching because of the workload.

"Everything is very controlled by the sports scientists and physios these days and there is so much information around all of this.

A win for Coleraine move the Bannsiders level with league leaders Linfield on 11 points.

Oran Kearney's men are unbeaten in their last 32 domestic games but were frustrated in a 2-2 home draw with Institute in their last league outing.

"The players are very tuned into what they're doing nowadays - you have to ask them to go that extra mile all the time with the games coming thick and fast" said Kearney.

"It will be a tough game, particularly at Seaview, where we had a cracking 1-1 draw at the end of last season,

"They're the reigning champions so we know how difficult it's going to be but it's important we kick on a couple of gears and be ready for them."

The two sides were involved in an epic title race last season which went right up to the final day, the Crusaders clinching the Gibson Cup with a win at Ballymena.

"The key thing is to get points on the board - last season we tried to keep ourselves right in amongst it up until Christmas time and then see what happened afterwards," said the Bannsiders boss.

"No matter who is in front of you at the minute it's about trying to get the three points and make sure you're getting those wins on the board."

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