Glenavon travel to Stangmore Park on Saturday for the Danske Bank Premiership fixture on a good run which sees them having won four of the last six league games, losing only once, to the current title holders Crusaders. In contrast the Swifts, now under the management of Rodney McAree, have lost the last six league games. Form notwithstanding, games between the two Mid-Ulster sides are usually competitive affairs and Gary Hamilton is expecting another tough game tomorrow.
Despite the blow of losing young midfielder James Singleton with a broken leg sustained in a Northern Ireland U21 match, Ciaran Martyn who snapped an Achilles in pre-season, Dave Elebert who has not played since August and Kevin Braniff out with a hamstring tear at Solitude two weeks ago, Gary Hamilton is more than happy with the strength of his squad this season, as witnessed by the performances of teenage midfielder Mark Sykes and new signing Daniel Kearns who he has pressed into service up front.
Kearns opened the scoring with his first league goal to set Glenavon on the way to a 5-1 victory against Ballinamallard United on Saturday last and veteran striker Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien was the proverbial ‘fox in the box’ when he stepped in to replace the Lurgan Blues leading goal scorer Eoin Bradley who was stranded in Sharm El Sheik. The Dubliner rewarded his manager’s confidence with a well-taken hat trick, his third for the Club in all competitions.
With Bradley now home it’s likely that he will have to settle for a place on the bench on Saturday if Hamilton adheres to his usual policy of not changing a winning team. “There’ll be no changes tomorrow,” Gary confirmed to us this afternoon. “The lads put in a great performance last week and they deserve to keep their places but we know, if we need to change things, we’ve got strength on the bench that we can call on.
“We have players like Andy Hall, Joel Cooper, Andy McGrory and Mark Patton who can supply great balls into the box and last week we had players getting on the end of those. Credit to Brian and Windy for that as they worked on it with the players during training after the Crusaders and Cliftonville games when we had good deliveries but no-one getting on the end of most of them and it really paid off against Ballinamallard.
“Dungannon have the new manager in place and that usually sees teams raise their game and their energy levels. They also had no game last weekend so they’ll be fresh and they always prove dangerous opponents for us so we’ll need to make sure we don’t allow our own performance to drop. If we put in the same level of effort as we did last week we should get the right result.”
Kyle Buckley joins the injury list as he has failed to shrug off an on-going foot injury and will be having X-Rays to diagnose the problem but Conor Dillon returns to the squad having recovered from an ankle injury.
The William Walker GSC and Victoria GSC are sharing a bus, leaving the clubrooms at MVP at 2pm. The Triangle GSC bus leaves MOIRA first at 1.30pm and then MVP at 2.00pm.