Safe before the split target

GARY Hamilton wants his side to be totally clear of relegation by the time the league splits at the end of March.

The boss has targeted at least another three wins from their next seven league games in order to do so and wants to pick up one of those when his side travel to take on Lisburn Distillery on Saturday.

Distillery remain rooted to the foot of the table with just 11 points, 15 behind Glenavon and Hamilton wants to further enhance that gap at New Grosvenor.

He said: “It’s a massive game for us. We told the Board at the start of the season that we’d be nowhere near relegation come the split. In order to do that, we need three wins in the seven games. Where they come from, it doesn’t matter but it’s a good chance to get one of them on Saturday.

“If we perform to our capabilities like we did when we went down to 10 men against Dungannon and even in the second half at Crusaders then that should get us a result.

“The most important thing is that we don’t leave with no points. We have to get a result, whether it’s a draw or a win. The last thing we can afford is to get beaten on Saturday.”

The boss’ other aim for the season is to improve on last year’s total points total. In order to do that, they need to pick up another 11 points from their last 11 games but Hamilton says that target may be jeopardised in order to play the club’s younger players towards the end of the season.

He said” “If we can get a few wins before the split, it would help us massively with that as well. The only thing is that if we are sitting 14 or 15 points clear of relegation come the split then we will play the young kids.

“We want to play them to have a look at them to see who can make the step up. We don’t have the money to go out and buy 20 squad players so we have to work on a squad of 16 or 17 with four or five kids as well.

“We’re hoping that we can get ourselves in a position that we can give them a chance after the split. That might affect our points but that doesn’t really matter at the end of the day if we can see which of the kids our up to it and move on from there.

“Even if we don’t take anything from those last games then it’s still an improvement on last year because we’ve kept our Premiership status with five games to go.”

This weekend, goalkeeper Andy Coleman is unlikely to play after picking up a knee injury against Crusaders but striker Guy Bates may be passed fit after being taken off with a back injury last weekend.

“Guy Bates has a stronger case of making it back for Saturday but Andy Coleman is a doubt. That’s a big blow to us because he’s been one of if not the most consistent performer for us this season.”

Hamilton himself, Ciaran Martyn and Kris Lindsay, who all sat out last weekend’s defeat, may come back into contention for a starting place.