IRISH LEAGUE: Glenavon boss is building for the future

Glenavon's January signing Renato De Vecchi  in action with Crusaders' Jordan Owens.
 Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Glenavon's January signing Renato De Vecchi in action with Crusaders' Jordan Owens. Photograph by Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

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Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton is tackling goals on a number of fronts as he attempts to mastermind a strong second-half domestic campaign and build towards future targets.

A 1-0 defeat to Crusaders last weekend marked a frustrating Danske Bank Premiership scoreline ahead of switching focus to Saturday’s Irish Cup sixth-round derby date against Armagh City.

Glenavon's Robert Norton up against Dundalk's Carlton Ubaezuona

on Monday evening. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Glenavon's Robert Norton up against Dundalk's Carlton Ubaezuona on Monday evening. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Off-the-field activity within the New Year transfer window has led to the exits of old faces in Eoin Bradley, Declan O’Brien and Kevin Braniff but addition of fresh faces for the short-term challenges such as James Gray and Aaron Canning - plus the summer capture of Andrew Mitchell.

Hamilton is relishing the opportunity to rebuild and rejuvenate the Mourneview Park squad as part of a long-term plan.

“Any manager who stays at a club beyond two or three seasons is generally going to have to put together another group of players,” said Hamilton, who was appointed as player/manager of his boyhood favourites in December 2011. “That, for me, is exciting and I want to do that for Glenavon.

“I have ambitions within the game as a manager and like how everything is working at Glenavon.

“I have great support from staff and officials towards how we go about completing our business and reaching our goals.

“We are clear in the direction we want to go and it is always about making improvements.

“Signing someone like Andrew Mitchell for the summer makes a statement and the aim is to reduce the age of the squad as part of rebuilding that next group.

“Of course, you need experience around the club as well and we have had players in the past and continue to have players on the books who have that passion to help develop our younger players by offering advice and encouragement.

“It is a blessing for me as a manager as help towards building a squad with younger players.”

The January transfer business marks a sign of a squad in transition.

“We were competitive on Saturday against Crusaders so take confidence from that, with both teams probably creating a similar number of chances,” said Hamilton. “Last season we probably proved more vulnerable at the back but created more chances in games but this season we have looked solid from a defensive viewpoint but maybe not been creating as many chances going forward.

“We will always be an attacking team but, without changing anything, we have been defending much better this season from front to back as a team.

“We have added Renato recently to the squad and been encouraged by his contribution against Crusaders on Saturday and in the friendly with Dundalk.

“He works hard, uses the ball well and likes to take people on.

“He is exciting and shows potential.

“The Dundalk match was a great stage for our younger players to continue to learn and develop and we certainly aim, long term, to lower the age profile.

“It also gave minutes to senior people like Andy Hall, Mark Patton, David Elebert and Simon Kelly.”