Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey has called on his players to show character as they look to reverse their slide down the Championship table. Defeat to

H&W Welders on Saturday made it six games without a point, but the boss is looking for his players to respond in positive fashion.

“It is clearly not what anybody would want, but you can overcome these situations as long as you don’t give up on it,” he said.

“It is going to test the character of everybody, and we have to see who can respond to this adversity. That is going to tell me an awful lot about who we have here at the club. I am looking for players to step up to the mark and make a name for themselves. A little bit of magic on the pitch that gave us three points would make such a difference to everyone, and I think that is what my players should be looking at. They should be saying ‘I want to be the one that is going to help turn this around’. It’s about looking in the mirror and not kidding yourself.”

Harry was under no illusions about the size of the challenge that the Mallards would face this season following their drop from the top flight, but he admits their current predicament is not what he expected.

“Given the amount of hard work that everyone has put in this season, it is disappointing and very frustrating that we find ourselves in this position," he said.

“You have to keep believing that there is a break from this, and every Tuesday and Thursday night on the training pitch our focus is that we have to make this better. The only positive we can take from it is that it can’t get any worse. We can’t be any worse than bottom. There is only one way for us and that is up.”

Harry’s believes last season’s struggles can provide his current side with hope that a revival is not far away. The team were rooted to the foot of the Premiership for long periods during the previous campaign, but finished strongly and almost pulled off a remarkable escape.

“Some of the players that were there last season are back around in a similar position to the one they saw last season, but they also saw with myself that things can change,” he said. “My job is to try to keep a positive environment around them.”

With a new look squad this season Harry was hoping the players would gel quickly at the start of the campaign, but a succession of injuries have disrupted his plans. Matty Smyth was forced out with a head injury shortly into the season, and his comeback on Saturday was halted by a calf injury that will keep him out this Saturday’s home clash with Carrick Rangers. Ryan Campbell is also set to miss out again after a hamstring strain preventing him from playing against the Welders. Nathan Cashel is also unavailable, as are the injured Dwayne McManus, Darren Teague and Jacob Britton.

“The greatest frustration for me is not being able to get a settled back four,” admitted the manager.

“Injuries are dictating how we have to play, and they are even dictating our substitutions. When you want to affect the game from the bench, we are often having to replace an injury rather than making a tactical change and that is hard to take sometimes. The pool is not that big at the moment but that does mean there are likely to be further opportunities for some of the young players this weekend.”

Youth player Sam Robb has been a rare bright spark this season, and Harry hopes his progression through the ranks can inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

“Sam’s performance has given a lift to other players around the club to let them know that it is possible,” he said.

“He has never missed a training session since he has come in in pre-season. He has grabbed an opportunity that was presented to him through default with other people being out injured. He has grabbed it with both hands and that is a very powerful message.”

Saturday’s game at Ferney Park pits Ballinamallard against another relegated side in Carrick Rangers. Like the Mallards, Carrick have at time struggled to play their best football this season, and Harry has promised to attack them in a bid to grab a much needed win.

“We are playing against a very experienced Carrick Rangers team and they have a bit of quality about them, but again they have had up and down results and I feel they are still trying to gel,” he said.

“There is no question about their ability levels. They will probably play a 3-5-2 and that can create spaces if it is not done efficiently. We will prepare ourselves to try to stretch them on our big pitch and ask those questions, and have a real go at them.”