IRISH LEAGUE: Portadown have‘best squad’ in bottom six says Gary Hamilton

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton.
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton.
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Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton reckons his derby opponents can boast the best panel of players in the bottom six of the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Lurgan Blues travel to Shamrock Park to face Portadown for the third time this season on Saturday afternoon. They’re still unbeaten against their rivals this season, a Kevin Braniff strike earning Glenavon a win in October before the thrilling 2-2 Boxing Day draw.

Portadown were, of course, awarded a 3-0 win for that one following the David Elebert suspension row - a decision which Glenavon have subsequently appealed.

If his side are to earn a win on the pitch this weekend, Hamilton says they won’t have it easy.

“(Portadown) are a better side than their position implies, that is for sure,” he said.

“They have a squad full of quality, I would say it’s probably the best squad of the teams in the bottom half of the table.

“Niall (Currie) has been working hard in January to strengthen that further, adding more players to his panel.

“So we know exactly what we will have to do and how we will have to perform come Saturday.”

The Ports, meanwhile, will need every bit of that squad if they’re to win this weekend.

Their list of absentees reads like a who’s who of Irish League footballers with Robert Garrett, Ken Oman, Gary Breen, Keith O’Hara, Mark McAllister, Sean Mackle, Niall Henderson and Stephen Hughes all out.

“Portadown fans are very knowledgeable and they know their football,” said boss Niall Currie. “They can see that we are missing seven to eight players who would make a big difference to the team.

“We just need a wee bit of luck and avoid injuries and suspensions. Once we get all the players back we will see where we are at. But the fans have been fantastic.

“(Glenavon) have talented players throughout the team and it will be tough. After this match we will have a few players back - but we will look to frustrate them and see what we can do.”