Carrick manager Aaron Callaghan admits he is ‘taking a bit of a chance’ with signings from the League of Ireland.
Toyeeb Mustapha and Sean Noble have both joined the Premiership strugglers from Waterford this month while forward Sam O’Connor arrived from Drogheda.
But after Saturday’s last gasp 3-1 defeat at Ballymena United, the boss conceded that launching players from their close-season into a relegation battle is far from ideal.
“It is very difficult,” he said. “We’re bringing in three or four players from the south.
“They finished their season last September so we’re bringing them in without a pre-season. We’re taking a bit of a chance on that.
“I know their work ethic and that’s why I signed them but when you bring them into a situation that you’re battling for points every week, it is difficult. You could see that in the last five minutes when we did maybe run out of a bit of steam. That’s the situation we’re in.
“We’ve lost a lot of games in the first part of the season. I had a big challenge coming in, I still have a big challenge to try and keep the club up. It’s one that I’m passionate about.”
Rangers pushed Ballymena all the way on Saturday. They fell behind to a Cathair Friel opener on eight minutes but drew level through former Sky Blues defender Paddy McNally.
He nodded home a Stephen McCullough corner in the 53rd minute to bag his second goal of the season.
Rangers managed to almost ride through the storm that the hosts unleashed on their goal in search of the win.
However, the pressure eventually told as Friel doubled his tally on 89 minutes only for Johnny McMurray to make the points safe for United in added time.
“Anyone watching that game would say we were hard-done-by without a shadow of a doubt,” reflected Callaghan. “It’s hard to take, conceding in the 89th minute after playing so well.
“We have been putting in performances over the last few weeks but we don’t seem to be getting the rub of the green. It’s the old cliche that when a team’s down there, the bounces go against you.
“Sometimes you need a bit of luck but you create that luck by building effective systems of trust and communication on the training ground. That’s what we’ve been doing - working really hard. The intensity and atmosphere at training is fantastic.
“We need to bring that intensity into the games, which we did (on Saturday). I don’t think the better team won the game. If you were a neutral, you would have said a draw was a fair result.
“When I see the players giving me everything like that, it’s encouraging going forward because it shows me that they care.”