GLENAVON host Glentoran in Saturday’s tea-time fixture at Mourneview Park and go into the game with close to a full bill of health.
Gary Hamilton will be without Calum Birney, who has undergone an operation on his hip. Everyone at the club sends Calum their best wishes for his recovery.
“Hopefully, that will cure the problem he has been experiencing,” said Gary. “All being well he will come through it and recover well, and we’ll see the best of him when he does come back.
“Everybody else is fighting fight. They all came through training and injury free, but a two-week break without training hasn’t helped, particularly when quite a few of those players had very little game time.
“The one thing we can be thankful and grateful for is that we have had no injuries. The physio department and the players and coaches have done well to be in this position.”
The last time the two teams met nine-man Glenavon battled to a 1-1 draw at the Oval, with Birney scoring against his former club.
“We didn’t let ourselves down the last time we played them but make no mistake about it, they are a good side,” added Gary.
“They should be challenging this year with the squad of players they have. They have a lot of quality, they have a lot of players who played across the water in England and a lot of the top players brought in from around with. They’ll be a force to be reckoned with over the next couple of years.
“But as we showed against Glentoran, Linfield and Larne, we are a match for any team in this league. If we go and play with the ability we have, the team spirit is there this year too, we can always get a result. We have performed well in those games but sometimes that’s where the extra investment gets you that little bit of extra quality and they can create situations out of nothing, like we saw with Jordan Stewart’s goal against us for Linfield.”
Supporters are reminded that Saturday’s game is behind closed doors and no fans will be permitted into the stadium under the current Executive guidelines. However, the game is being streamed for free on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport NI website (click here for website). Kick-off is at 5.30pm.
Meanwhile, Gary has confirmed to the club website that Jordan Jenkins has agreed to go on loan to Carrick Rangers until the end of the season.
“Jordan’s come through as a youngster and has done well. Every transfer window since he broke through we have tried to loan him out but unfortunately when that time has come out we’ve been down in numbers in terms of centre forwards,” Gary explained.
“We had deals lined up with Ards and the Welders in the past, but in the end we haven’t been able to go through with them because we’ve been down in bodies.
“It’s something I’ve always thought would benefit JJ – it’s worked for Bobby Burns, Paddy Burns and Jack O’Mahony, who went out as young players and came back stronger. We’ve wanted to get JJ that experience of playing every week at a decent level.
“Hopefully he gets that at Carrick, he’ll improve and we’ll take it from there.”
LAST TIME OUT
Nine-man Glenavon snatched a hard-earned point against the odds during the second game of the season.
With a number of enforced changes, playing away from home with no supporters and having to play most of the game with fewer players than their opponents, not many would have given the Lurgan Blues a chance.
Gary Hamilton asked for an improved defensive performance from the opening day defeat to Portadown – he got that. And he asked for improved deliveries into the box – he got that too, with a well-whipped ball finding Calum Birney for a fantastic equaliser that felt like a winner.
Referee: Ian McNabb
Assistant Referees: Paul Robinson, Stephen Bell
Fourth Official: Shane McGonigle
Match sponsor: The Doc & Lurgan Mechanics Institute
Ball sponsor: Raymond Derby
Man of the Match sponsor: TandraTea Coffee Shop, Tandragee