ORAN Kearney has admitted he is already looking towards next season as he bids to build a strong challenge to the Irish League big guns.
The Bannsiders suffered disappointment on Saturday as they narrowly missed out on a top six finish as they slipped to defeat at home to Crusaders and Distillery beat Portadown.
Coleraine will now finish off the season with four home games and one away fixture at Newry City.
Kearney though remains upbeat and praised his players for they way they have responded since he came to the club. One defeat in the last eight league games lifted the Bannsiders away from the foot of the table and in to top six contention much to the manager’s delight.
“When I got the job, the key thing was ensuring survival,” he told Times Sport.
“In doing so we put ourselves in with a shout of the top six.
“If you’d told me on the day I took the job that we’d be going into the game in sixth place with our fate in our own hands, I’d definitely have taken it.”
Kearney has challenged his players to get over their disappointment and show they have a future at the club as he looks towards next season.
“We’ve got five league games left and we want to ensure we finish the season on a
High,” he said.
“There are a lot of players in the squad who are playing for new contracts and, to some extent, my mind will be looking ahead to next season and I’ll be starting to make plans for then.
“It would have nice to be doing that by playing against the likes of Linfield and Glentoran, but the games we will have now will give me a chance to look at what we’ve got in the squad.
“Normally when you’re blooding young players, the ideal age for that is 17, 18 or 19.
“At 16 they’re still very young and it’s a big ask to step up to this level, unless they’re
an absolutely special player in a man’s body at that age.
“That said, if the opportunity arises to give them some game time, I’ll certainly consider it.
“You can rest assured that I’m working very hard to line up as many targets as possible so that next season we can kick on from here.”
The Bannsiders are back in action this Friday night when they entertain Ballymena United, kick-off is 7.45pm.