Glenavon are down to the bare bones for the visit of Linfield to Mourneview Park tomorrow.
Peter Campbell, Calum Birney, Matthew Snoddy, Owen Taylor and Michael O’Connor will all be missing for the game against the team sitting second in the Danske Bank Premiership.
Gary Hamilton explained: “We’re down to our last 18 players. It’s just the way it is and that is how it is going to be in the current climate.
“A couple of those are out through injury and a couple are out through isolating. Thankfully we didn’t train from Christmas Eve until Tuesday but unfortunately, within that period, a couple of players have come into contact with people with COVID. It’s not that they have it, but they have to isolate for 10 days. Thankfully they didn’t come into contact with any of the players which helps us a little bit.
“It’s going to happen and it’s not going to be just us that are hit with it,” he added.
While it’s not what the manager would have wanted going into a game against one of the top sides in the country, Gary believes that those players available to him certainly could get a result if they give their best.
“Linfield are expected to beat us. Before that game starts, if you ask 100 people who wins that game 99 of them would say Linfield so it’s one of them games that it’s a free game for us – the players will go out there and give it their all but nobody’s going to expect them to win.
“However, if we perform the way that we have been over the last number of games then we stand a chance.
“I’ve seen the mojo back in the boys again. I’ve seen a different changing room, one that will compete with every team that they play with and will give them a game.
“Yes, we’re missing a few players tomorrow but I believe that the squad of players that are available, if they turn up, are more than capable of giving Linfield a game tomorrow and hopefully getting a result.”
With some of those fringe players likely to be given a chance on Saturday, it’s probably as well that some of them got playing in the pre-Christmas Mid-Ulster Cup game.
“There was a lot of the players who hadn’t played any games before the Armagh game, so they were able to get 60, 70, 80 and 90 minutes into their lungs and under their belt,” added Gary.
“That will help them a little bit but it’s not ideal – if you were coming through pre-season you would need six or seven games to get match-fit and get to a level you’re capable of but it’s a lot better than nothing.
“A few of the players we’ll be relying on on Saturday might not have had the game time we would have liked but at least they will have got some minutes under their belts.”
- Saturday’s game is behind closed doors and no supporters will be permitted into the stadium, as per the restrictions in place by the Northern Ireland Executive. Season ticket holders who contacted the club for a free stream of the game have had their details loaded. Anyone who is not a season ticket holder can still see the game at 247.tv/niprem for just £5. Commentary comes from Michael Scott and former Glenavon defender Paddy Burns and the programme, which gets underway at 2.30pm, includes highlights from recent games and interviews with Daniel Larmour and Jonathan Tuffey.
LAST TIME OUT: Two unfortunate goals meant that Glenavon’s return to Windsor Park ended in defeat.
A Stephen Fallon lob and a Shaye Lavery tap in gave the champions all three points in a game where the Lurgan Blues certainly put it up to their opponents.
But the big talking point in the game was referee Jamie Robinson’s decision not to send of Christy Manzinga for punching Daniel Larmour on the back of the leg just minutes after the Linfield player had come on as a sub.
REFEREE: Evan Boyce
ASSISTANT REFEREES: Ken Ross, Neil Gillespie
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Andrew Davey
MATCH SPONSOR: Avondale Foods
BALL SPONSOR: Gordon Gough
MAN OF THE MATCH SPONSOR: Mark Baxter