Supporter Information: For today’s game Glenavon supporters will be accommodated in the Shore Road stand and should enter via the Shore Road turnstiles.
Gary Hamilton’s team selection for the final league game of the season at Seaview against Crusaders tomorrow is once again restricted by injuries, suspensions and potential bans. Rhys Marshall is available after completing a two-game ban but Simon Kelly and Andrew Doyle are both banned for this game having picked up their 5th cautions recently. Chris Turner is out with hamstring strain but Aaron Canning (back) and Joel Cooper (calf) should be available for selection.
“We’ll put out the strongest team we can bearing in mind who’s available and as we try to give the players as many minutes as possible on the pitch in preparation for the playoffs,” Gary told us. “Aaron has had back problems which recurred against Linfield and the 4G pitch could put extra strain on him so he may have limited minutes tomorrow.”
Gary himself has been absent from the playing squad since picking up a stress fracture of the back while playing in the Reserves. “That’s frustrating for me as, ironically, I was playing to get fit for the play-offs but I won’t be able to play again this season.”
‘That goal’ hits the back of the net. Photo by Alan Weir
What a servant Kyle Neill has been, not just to Glenavon Football Club, but to Irish League football in general. And who will ever forget that goal ‘Kyler’ scored in the 2014 Irish Cup Final that saw Glenavon win the coveted trophy for the first time since 1997?
Kyle Neill is carried off after picking up a suspected cartilage injury to his left knee. Photo by Alan Weir
Last week at Solitude Kyle was arguably the best player on the pitch, belying the fact that he’s 39 years old and has had to fight his way back to fitness after an operation to repair a serious knee ligament injury he picked up on Boxing Day 2015.
If he starts tomorrow’s game it will be his 198th start for the Lurgan Blues and, with 30 substitute appearances and 24 goals and who knows how many assists to his credit, he’ll be a hard act to follow.
“We’ve had a chat and Kyle told me he feels this is going to be his last year at this level. He said he’d like to stay on but he’s a realist and, while you never ever rule anything out in life, in his opinion this is his last year and tomorrow could possibly be his last league game,” Gary explained. “He’s had a wonderful career and an unbelievable time at Glenavon. He’s been there since I started until now; he’s played a part in one Irish Cup success and getting to Europe a couple of times. He’s been a big player for the club and unfortunately for him he got the cruciate injury when he was on a good run of form which set him back for the start of this season and then he picked up a few wee niggles this year which sometimes happens when you’re coming back from serious injury.
“Obviously he’s a close friend of mine but regardless of that and never mind his ability and everything else that he had, he was somebody you could rely on and somebody who, once he crossed that white line, gave whatever club he played for everything he had.
“I thought last Saturday just typified him; he came in for Joel, not having played for a long, long time, on a 3G pitch which he obviously doesn’t like playing on, and to put in the shift and the performance that he did, just spoke volumes about the type of person and the type of player he’s been whichever Club he’s played for.”
The last time Glenavon won at Seaview was in October 2014 when Gary’s side ran out 4-1 winners. The key to that win was swift counter-attacking football by Glenavon and that may be a feature tomorrow as Crusaders must go all-out for the win to have any hope of retaining their League title for a third consecutive season.