INTERNATIONAL: Glenavon’s Sykes forced to pull out of Estonia trip

Mark Sykes (right) on duty last season with Glenavon. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Mark Sykes (right) on duty last season with Glenavon. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Injury has ruled out Mark Sykes from representing Northern Ireland under 21s this week in the European Championship qualifying fixture.

Sykes was named as a late addition to the international panel for tonight’s (Thursday’s) date against Estonia.

However, groin trouble has prevented Sykes from joining Glenavon club colleague Joel Cooper on the trip to Tallinn.

Cooper had been training with the senior squad leading up to the international friendly with New Zealand last Friday on home soil.

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is backing both players to use the international attention as a springboard for continued progress.

“Mark was called up but had to explain to the international set-up how a groin injury has been causing him trouble,” said Hamilton. “We are still trying to get to the source of the issue but it left Mark unable to travel with the under 21s.

“However, he still received the call-up so that must act as a great boost.

“Joel has enjoyed the benefits of spending time training, once again, with the senior squad.

“For both players, it is about learning as much as possible from those opportunities so you can continue to develop.

“In terms of ability, the potential is there for both to still have a shot across the water as Mark and Joel remain young.

“But it is about moving on to that next level and international experiences can only help.

“You can come away having spent time not just around international players but also working on different styles of play and formations.

“It is a great boost for the club but, more importantly, international interest is a reward for the players and extra motivation to continue the hard work.

“The opportunity is to listen and learn as much as possible to try and improve.”