It was another tough week for Ballinamallard boss Gavin Dykes as his side shipped five goals in a defeat to Crusaders at Ferney Park.

However, Dykes did reveal that he had received one bit of good news on Saturday which was that captain James McKenna intends to return to action.

It has been feared that McKenna would call it a day after breaking his collarbone but Dykes states that the experienced performer will be back and he admits that he is a player that they missed to date.

“The only good bit of news I got today is that James McKenna is not going to retire, he is going to come back and play and by God could I do with him,” said the Mallards boss.

Indeed, McKenna’s leadership qualities were badly missed at the back on Saturday with the home side shipping two goals from throw ins in the first half.

“We gave two goals away from throw ins and that was something that we worked on at training on Thursday night and players didn’t take responsibility for it. A throw in to the box shouldn’t hurt you, it is basic defending,” said Dykes.

And Dykes stresses that it is time for the players to stand up and be counted as they look to get that first win of the season and move away from the bottom of the table.

“We are in a serious battle, we conceded six at Glenavon and we conceded five here today. We have to start fighting and people have to start taking responsibility. This club have gone and done everything that I have wanted and it is time now for the players to step up and take a bit of responsibility to the people that pay money to come in here and watch that because that isn’t good enough,” he added.

A Ryan Curran goal, his fifth of the campaign, looked to have had the Mallards back in the game early in the second half but more poor defending saw the game run away from them as Paul Heatley completed a hat-trick in a comfortable win for the Crues. Dykes did feel though that his side created more chances than they had been doing in recent games.

“At 2-1 I thought we were in it but then we gave away shocking goals and the heads went down. You can’t afford to give away silly goals in this league and they have quality and it is why they will be up there pushing Linfield all the way.

“The only positive is that we probably created more than we did in the last three of four games. Going forward I think we looked alright, especially in the second half. Curran did well and I thought Armstrong did well when he came on. A lot of people were surprised when I brought him back but he hit the post and keeper made a good save from him. I have no doubt how good he will be if I can get him right.”

It gets no easier this week for Ballinamallard with an away game against champions Linfield to come but Dykes believes it is a free hit for his side this Saturday at Windsor Park.

“It is a free one which nobody expects us to get anything from. We have got to go up there and be positive and it is up to the players to react. They are a good bunch of lads and I have faith in them and hopefully we can get a result and get this thing moving.”