Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter expects Glentoran to provide formidable opposition when the teams meet in the Premiership at Seaview on Saturday.
"The Glens have been under the radar a bit this season but Eddie (Patterson) has built a great young side with some real quality players," said Baxter.
"The staff have worked tirelessly on the training paddock to make them better and develop them week by week.
"They've had a difficult few years but they're coming out the back of that."
"Eddie is working with the resources he has at his disposal and they are only six points off the top.
"They will come well organised and will give us a very tough game," added Baxter, who welcomes back midfielder Declan Caddell after suspension.
Defender David Magowan is a doubt however, having sustained an ankle injury in last week's win at Dungannon.
The Glens have defender Ryan O'Neill ruled out through suspension, but Patterson is hoping to include striker Aaron Boyd, who has missed the last six weeks with a hamstring injury.
Midfielder David Howland is out for the rest of the season, after undergoing knee surgery.
"Crusaders have a very experienced squad - they are strong and physical and score plenty of goals, that's why they are top of the league," observed Glens boss Patterson.
"We'll go there, put up a challenge and see where it takes us. It's a massive game for us," he added.
Linfield have skipper Michael Gault available again after serving a ban as they hope to erase the memory of some disappointing results against Ballinamallard United last season.
"They will come to Windsor Park with no fear as they came here and chinned us on a couple of occasions last year," recalled Linfield manager David Jeffrey.
Mallards midfielder Jason McCartney is back after suspension, but goalkeeper Fergal Murphy is sidelined.
Dungannon have been hit with the news that defender Michael McKerr is out for the rest of the season as they prepare to play their Stangmore Park tenants Warrenpoint Town.
Swifts manager Darren Murphy is also without Ricky Copeland (ankle), Johnny Topley (thigh) and Jamie Douglas (hamstring).
Warrenpoint will give a late fitness test to groin injury victim Stephen Hughes, but Liam Bagnall is suspended after collecting five yellow cards.
Coleraine have an injury concern over captain Howard Beverland as they aim to end a dramatic run of poor form when they face Portadown at Shamrock Park.
Glenavon have defensive pair William Murphy and Eddie McCallion suspended for their fixture against Glenavon at Mourneview Park.
Striker David Rainey could again be absent as he continues to recover from a head wound sustained in training.
Ballymena goalkeeper Stuart Addis serves an automatic one-match suspension, so Dwayne Nelson comes in, while Gary Thompson returns after completing a ban.