Wright and Nixon back in frame
James Wright and Darren Nixon both resumed training this week, putting them in line for a return to the squad for Saturday's match with Ballinamallard United.
Picture: Gareth McCluskey
Midfielder Wright and defender Nixon had been missing from action over recent weeks because of illness but both returned to training this week, suggesting that they may be fit enough for inclusion on the bench this weekend. Ards will also welcome back striker Gareth Corey after a three game holiday absence and he too was fully involved with training this week.
A late call is expected to be made on the fitness of striker Ross Arthurs, who came off after 40 minutes of action in last Saturday's win over Banbridge Town. The player has been suffering with a muscular neck injury since then and took no part in this week's training, instead receiving a number of physio sessions.
Should Aaron McKee feature against Ballinamallard, then it will be his last game before starting a six match suspension resulting out of his sending off at Institute two weeks ago. With James Wright slowly returning to fitness and Jimmy McIlhagga also available again in midfield, manager Justin McBride may be keen to rest Mark Picking, who has been playing with a knock for the past few weeks.
Picture: Gareth McCluskey
Ballinamallard will come into Saturday's game off the high of eliminating Lisburn Distillery from the Irish Cup on Monday night. The Fermanagh side overcame the challenge of the Premiership club 4-2 in this week's replay with top scorer Andy Crawford helping himself to a hat-trick.
The previous encounter between Ards and Ballinamallard this season ended with a resounding 3-1 victory for United back in October, when only a fine goalkeeping display from Aaron Kerr prevented an Ards thumping. Since then Ballinamallard have lost just once in the league, a 2-1 defeat to Limavady back in November and successfully overcame Dergivew and Larne prior to beating Distillery for a place in the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup.
The side are also waiting to play the outstanding Fermanagh & Western Intermediate Cup final against Mountjoy, which is scheduled for 16th March. Going into Saturday's game Ards are two points clear of Ballinamallard, who lie in joint fifth place with Limavady and Larne. Ards remain undefeated at home in the Championship this season.
Ards supporters are encouraged to avail of the PASC bus which leaves the Sports Club at 1.50pm for the 3pm start.
- THIS WEEKEND'S FIXTURES (3.00pm unless stated )
Ladbrokes.com Championship 1
v Ballinamallard United
Bangor v Ballyclare Comrades
Dergview v Institute
Limavady United v Banbridge Town
WKD Core Intermediate CupCarrick Rangers v Banbridge Rangers (1.30pm)
25th February 2011