James Singleton’s progress in Irish League football has featured a string of highs and lows but the young defender insists his focus is only on moving forward rather than looking back.
His rise up the roster led to a spot in Glenavon’s 2014 Irish Cup-winning squad as a teenager and last weekend provided another personal moment to savour with a spot on the scoresheet.
However, overall defeat for holders Glenavon left Singleton on the losing side at the final whistle and prevented a fairytale finish to his return this season from a leg break sustained on duty with Northern Ireland under 21s.
Singleton managed to draw a line under months of long days of physical pain and mental frustration by returning to the Glenavon side late last year and grabbed a first goal for the Lurgan Blues since his comeback in the Irish Cup quarter-final defeat of Portadown.
A semi-final finish failed to keep Glenavon on course for a third Irish Cup prize in four seasons but Singleton remains optimistic about the future on all fronts.
“Saturday’s defeat to Coleraine was devastating but we have to regroup and focus now on the rest of this season and getting European football,” said the full-back. “It was nice to score again as I had been on the scoresheet a few times before my injury when the boss put me more in midfield.
“It is harder to score from left-back but I can hopefully cause a problem for teams at set-pieces so the manager gives me free licence in those situations.
“European football is so important for the club but also it gives you a real test as a player going up against full-time opposition.
“Now the goal beyond this season is the same for me and the club.
“We want to push on over the rest of the current season, get in a good pre-season and kick on as a squad.
“We have a talented young squad learning together and we want to win trophies and challenge for the top prizes.
“In the past we maybe would have been happy with a top-six finish but now everyone wants to move forward and be competitive for silverware.
“I am just glad to be back playing and it was tough at the start but I’m feeling stronger and closer to 100 per cent now.”
Northern Ireland’s all-time leading scorer David Healy will team up again with former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson for a special fundraiser on Monday in Craigavon Civic Centre.
Another former United player, Roy Carroll, will join the pair for the Mental Health Awareness Week event.
Ferguson has been invited to attend as keynote speaker by Pat McGibbon, a former United and Northern Ireland defender who formed the Train To Be Smart football programme.
Paul Lake, part of the Premier League player welfare team in England, will also be in attendance - with BBC football pundit Liam Beckett the host.
McGibbon set up the charity in 2013 in tribute to his brother, Phillip, who took his own life during the player’s time at United under Ferguson.
“The Gaffer and Manchester United were a huge source of support to me at that time and he didn’t hesitate when I invited him to be the main speaker at the event in Craigavon,” said McGibbon. “It is great that he is giving support to Train to Be Smart and promoting the positive mental health message.”
Ferguson will also meet with Train To Be Smart players.
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