Cliftonville face fight to retain services of talisman Liam Boyce

Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce
Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce

Danske Bank Premiership champions Cliftonville face a battle to keep hold of talisman Liam Boyce this summer.

Boyce – who comes out of contract next month – is on the radar of a number of clubs on the mainland.

The 23-year-old has bagged an impressive 60 goals in the past two seasons to help Tommy Breslin’s Reds claim back-to-back titles.

The phenomenal record has alerted a number of English clubs to Boyce’s potential availability this summer.

One promotion-chasing English League Two club is interested in taking Boyce on trial, while another League One side is interested in the player.

League of Ireland outfit Shamrock Rovers have also been linked with a possible move.

After Cliftonville’s title success on Tuesday, Boyce admitted he still harbours hopes of a full-time career in football, but added it was a case of “wait and see” as to what the future holds.

“It’s a case of wait and see. We’ll see what happens in the summer and take it from there,” he told UTV.

“Cliftonville have wanted to talk to me about contracts since January, but I have told our chairman (Gerard Lawlor) if a full-time club comes in for me, I have to look at that.

“Fair play to Gerard, he told me if someone comes in for me he won’t stand in my way.

“I appreciate that. Hopefully if I get a chance I’ll take it this time.”

Cliftonville are keen to retain the services of last year’s Player of the Year, and will sit down with Boyce after Saturday’s game with Crusaders.

The North Belfast derby – which has been switched from Seaview to Solitude – will see the Reds presented with the Gibson Cup in front of their home fans.

Speaking ahead of the clash, Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter – whose side have already qualified for Europe – has dismissed speculation linking Paul Heatley with a move away from Seaview.

Cliftonville and Portadown have both been linked with moves for the 26-year-old – who signed for Crusaders in June 2012 – but Baxter said the player is going nowhere.

“I don’t know how these rumours start, but it’s about time they should be put to bed,” he said.

“Paul signed an extension to his contract at Christmas and he is very happy here. We are also very pleased to have him.

“He is a very important player and has been excellent since joining us a couple of years back.

“His form this season has been superb and the positive thing is that he is also still improving and developing his game.

“So he is very much part of the club’s future.”