NI League Cup final: Carrick keeper Brian Neeson plays down rib injury scare

The absence of Brian Neeson would be a big blow for Carrick Rangers
The absence of Brian Neeson would be a big blow for Carrick Rangers
NI League Cup final: Ballymena Utd v Carrick Rangers
Venue: Seaview, Belfast Date: Saturday, 18 February Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster and the BBC Sport website; Text commentary and highlights on BBC Sport website

Carrick Rangers goalkeeper Brian Neeson has allayed fears about his fitness ahead of Saturday's League Cup final against Ballymena United at Seaview.

Neeson was forced off after suffering the injury in the first half of Saturday's league defeat by Linfield.

He will have a late fitness test and told BBC Sport NI: "it's still a wee bit tender but I expect to play ".

Ballymena also have an injury concern with set-piece specialist Tony Kane struggling with a hamstring problem.

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Aaron Callaghan confident of Carrick Cup hopes

Carrick manager Aaron Callaghan confirmed Neeson faces a late fitness test at lunchtime on Saturday.

"He has very badly bruised ribs.

"There's obviously internal bruising there and he is very sore at the moment.

"According to the physio we have to make a very late call on that one prior to the match."

Reserve goalkeepers Yvan Imbert and Tyler Briers are on stand-by but Neeson insists he will be available for selection.

He said: "I've just been resting and recovering but once the adrenalin gets going, it's a Cup final, so I think it'll be put to one side and forgotten about".

"It is nothing that will trouble me come Saturday.

"It's not every day Carrick get to a Cup final, especially a senior Cup final.

"A senior Cup final is a big deal, it's my first one, and something I really want to win for Carrick."

Tony Kane
Tony Kane's goal celebrations have become a familiar sight this season

Ballymena midfielder Kane is doubtful with a hamstring injury sustained five minutes from the end of Saturday's Premiership defeat by Crusaders at Seaview.

The 29-year-old is the club's second top scorer this season, having notched 18 goals, 12 of those from penalties and four from free-kicks.

Both Ballymena and Carrick are looking to win the League Cup for the first time in their history and the clubs are meeting in a domestic decider for the first time since the 1984 Irish Cup final, which Ballymena won 4-1.

United have picked up the County Antrim Shield twice in recent years, but were losing finalists in the 2014 Irish Cup final and the 2015 League Cup decider.

Carrick last picked up senior silverware in the 1992-93 season, when they collected the County Antrim Shield.

Ballymena manager David Jeffrey won the League Cup six times during his time as manager of Linfield.

Ballymena reached the final by beating Newington YC, Linfield, Warrenpoint Town and Coleraine while Carrick accounted for Ballyclare Comrades, Armagh City, Dungannon Swifts and Glenavon.

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