Matthew Shevlin missing as Ballymena United face Portadown threat

Ballymena United's Matthew Shevlin
Ballymena United's Matthew Shevlin

Ballymena United will be without teenage sensation Matthew Shevlin for Saturday’s Danske Premiership clash against Portadown at Shamrock Park.

Sky Blues boss Glenn Ferguson must also plan without suspended defender Michael Ruddy and injured midfielder Eoin Kane.

Although United lost their unbeaten run against title holders Crusaders last weekend, Ferguson was ‘pleased’ with his team’s contribution.

“You know what you are going to get from Crusaders,” he said. “They are the league champions, but we matched them for most of the game.

“Yes, they have the players with that bit of flare that can turn matches . . . you have to hold up your hands to that.

“But we dug in when we needed to. Had we (Matthew Tipton) put away the penalty in the first half to put us 2-1 ahead, you never know what would have happened.

“There is no point in looking back. We must set out our stall to get three points at Portadown.”

Even though Ronnie McFall’s team have flattered to deceive in recent weeks, Ferguson will not be fooled. He added: “The squad is packed with quality, there is no question about that.

“Their results have been poor by their own standards, but they have that many good players. They could click any time . . . hopefully not against us.

“They have match winners all over the park, so we’ll not be thinking the points are there for the taking. Anything we get, we’ll have to work for.

“Portadown won deep into injury time last week at Carrick. That just could be the result to spark their season.”

Shevlin is away on Northern Ireland Under-19 duty - and he’ll be a big miss.

The 16 year old recently spent a trial with Premiership club Crystal Palace, who this week had a bid rejected by Ballymena.

“He has done really well for us this season,” added Ferguson. “He’s still only a kid, but he’s playing like a seasoned campaigner. Palace’s bid was turned down by the club.”

Any deal must be right for Matthew and the club. Perhaps, they’ll come back with an improved offer.”

There a number of other clubs also monitoring the player’s situation, including Liverpool Celtic, whose head of recruitment, Willie McStay who watched Shevlin against Crusaders last week, and Huddersfield Town.