Glenavon: Gary Hamilton's men on the front foot for Belfast test with Linfield

Memories and mental strength will enhance motivation levels within the Glenavon camp entering a weekend Windsor Park test with Linfield.

Saturday, 22nd December 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:31 am
Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton. Pic by Pacemaker.

Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton considers a visit to the most successful club in Irish League history a challenge to embrace thanks to the growing self-belief secured off the back of past progress.

The history books may maintain a significant gap between the clubs’ silverware haul but only a single point separates the sides in the current Danske Bank Premiership standings and increased confidence offers Hamilton cause to relish the opportunity at a return to the top two.

“When you get those first big wins at grounds like Windsor Park, or any high-profile fixture, that builds self-belief,” said Hamilton. “That develops over time and more results and now we sit in a situation of a strong mindset for any game.

Linfield manager David Healy. Pic by INPHO.

“We go into any venue or situation trusting in the fact that a performance matching our capabilities can result in a win.

“Against Coleraine last Friday we looked closer to our best, especially defensively, so it is about trying to exploit any weakness within Linfield and create opportunities.

“Set-pieces are a massive part of the Linfield threat so it is going to take collective concentration to reduce how many we concede and then continue to build on the Coleraine display in terms of how we picked up our men.”

Glenavon’s free-flowing football has left the side sitting as the leading scorers in the senior division and Hamilton retains his faith in that gameplan.

“We have scored nine goals in our past three league games and look to exploit the space at Windsor Park by continuing to press high and win back possession,” said Hamilton. “There is no secret to how we play, with that pace and energy and it can be more physically demanding on the bigger pitch.

“But the core fitness work from the summer is in place and we also base a lot of our training time on that area.”

Linfield boss David Healy is keen to maintain momentum across back-to-back home tests inside five festive days against, respectively, Glenavon then Glentoran.

Healy’s Blues aim to get back on track following a weekend postponement by building on league delight over defending champions Crusaders then League Cup semi-final success against Dungannon Swifts.

The Linfield manager considered the cup display a “momentum-builder” when speaking to the club’s official website, citing the “huge performance” off the back of the “really positive result” against the Crues thanks to his players’ “hard work and dedication”.

“Daniel Kearns was injured down at Dungannon several weeks ago but he’s now available for selection and in contention for a place in our squad for our upcoming games,” said Healy, offering an injury update on the club website that suggested Mark Stafford may be available for Saturday. “Cameron Stewart will train with the squad...but I don’t expect him to be in line for a comeback for several weeks.

“Mark Haughey has made slow progress this season but is back training, although it could be January before he gets gametime with the Swifts and first team.

“Ryan McGivern is close to being fit, his fitness and training levels are generally good.

“But it will be good to get him gametime on the pitch.

“We hope to have him available for selection in the next few weeks, although he may initially need a game or two with the Swifts.”