James can deliver even more: Kearney

James McLaughlin, chases the ball during Saturday's 1-all draw with Glentoran at the Oval. wk4519mb
James McLaughlin, chases the ball during Saturday's 1-all draw with Glentoran at the Oval. wk4519mb
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Coleraine chief Oran Kearney insists the best is yet to come from hot-shot James McLaughlin.

The Ballymoney man’s glorious double in the midweek League Cup win against Ballymena United took his goal tally to the season to 14.

Struggling Carrick Rangers are now in the firing line of the free-scoring striker in tomorrow’s Danske Premier clash at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds.

“I just think with every game, James looks more and more comfortable,” said Kearney. “To me he’s a natural goal scorer and they are hard to come by. That’s what he does best.

“He never goes over the top with his celebrations. That tells me there is an intrinsic side there, where he knows he scores goals and he expects to score goals.”

Kearney snapped up McLaughlin from junior soccer over the summer, but he insists it wasn’t a gamble.

“It’s a credit to James and nobody else -- simple as that,” said Kearney. “We dangled a carrot in front of him and he has grabbed it with both hands.

“What was the worst that could happen? If it didn’t work out, James would simply have moved back to junior football. It wasn’t costing us the earth.

“He is also a local lad and we knew there was a hunger there. His circumstances had changed. He has a couple of children now and everything else. Everything has settled for him and it has allowed him to have a really good go at it.”

Kearney is now demanding another three points from his fast improving side against struggling Rangers.

“They are battling for every point, but we’ve got a great winning mentality at the moment, it crucial we keep that going.”