Stephen McDonnell predicts 'big future' for Glenavon teenager after starring in winning run
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The 19-year-old, who made his first-team breakthrough under Gary Hamilton last season, has produced a number of impressive performances in recent weeks to help Glenavon turn their fortunes around and start climbing the table.
He netted his first goal of the season after only two minutes at Mourneview Park on Saturday as McDonnell’s men moved into eighth by adding to previous victories over Carrick Rangers, Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United.
They’ve won six of 11 matches across competitions since their new boss was appointed in late-September and Baird has played virtually every minute this season after making 35 league appearances last term.
The ex-Portadown youth product has formed a solid midfield partnership alongside Robbie Garrett and McDonnell, who named Baird as captain for October’s Mid-Ulster Cup quarter-final success over Newry City, was full of praise for the teenager’s all-round game.
"The position we're playing Isaac in, he's a player that is good in build-up so he's naturally that bit deeper whereas Jack (Malone) is that bit higher,” he said. “He's growing into the position and I keep saying to Isaac that him and Ribsy have developed a wonderful partnership and to keep sponging and learning off him.
"Isaac brings so much quality which is really impressive.
"He makes tackles, passes, can play long or short and he does get the odd shot from distance off.
"He has only turned 19 so that (more goals) will certainly come, but he has huge potential.
"Doing what he is doing at this age, he's up at 60-odd appearances so he has a big future ahead of him.
"I think he is enjoying his game time at the moment."
Glenavon talisman Peter Campbell was replaced just three minutes into the second-half on Saturday, but McDonnell confirmed it was more of a precaution due to his importance.
"Peter had a tightness in his hamstring,” he added. "He’s too influential for our team at the moment to be risking anything there so we got him off.”