Backline blues for derby date

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton is facing a selection headache ahead of this weekend’s Mid-Ulster derby date against Portadown.

Both sides enter the meeting at Mourneview Park in search of a return to winning ways - with Hamilton’s pre-match priority a depleted defence.

Goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey is struggling with a back problem and Hamilton must also reshuffle the heart of his backline following concerns over David Elebert and Simon Kelly.

Andrew Doyle is unavailable and suspension has ruled out Kris Lindsay as Hamilton attempts to juggle a squad with up to four centre-backs absent.

Adding to the high stakes of Saturday’s derby bragging rights is a run without Danske Bank Premiership victory dating back to the August 26 success by Glenavon over Ards.

The forthcoming home clash presents Glenavon with an opportunity to end a period of fixtures to forget on a positive note.

“Potentially we could be without a goalkeeper and four centre-backs, with a squad already stretched this season due to injuries and suspensions,” said Hamilton. “I am an attack-minded manager but a solid back-four line-up is important overall and that is something we have been missing this season.

“The loss of Conor Dillon to Australia has been a big blow and he is a player I regarded as one of the best in the Irish League.

“But Conor was also part of a back-four line-up that stayed consistent more often than has been the case this season.

“I have not had the same four defenders together for two games in a row.

“You are aiming for consistency that comes with a regular line-up and as many players as possible available for selection.

“However, that is football and the reality of our situation so it is about dealing with it for Saturday.”

The Ports visit Lurgan with Pat McGibbon, Hamilton’s former club colleague, in charge and searching for a boost in the battle against relegation.

“We will go in expecting a tough game against Portadown as form goes out the window,” said Hamilton. “In the past we have had derby games with Portadown in better form than Glenavon but an upset caused or vice-versa.

“We must not look at the league table and under-estimate Portadown and the Danske Bank Premiership does not throw up anything you could consider an easy game.

“It is important we produce the right level of performance to stand any chance of a win against Portadown from such a tough fixture.”

Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.