RESERVES TO KEEP PLACES FOR CUP FINAL

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GARY Hamilton will keep faith with the players who got Glenavon to the Mid-Ulster Cup final by handing then a place in the squad for next Wednesday’s game against Newry Town.

The final, at Mourneview Park, kicks off at 7.45pm and will feature the same squad of young Glenavon players who overcame Dungannon Swifts 4-0 in the semi-final last month.

Gerard Rooney, Chris Lavery and Andrew Mitchell (2) were on the scoresheet in that comfortable victory with the squad made up almost entirely of players from Gerard McMahon’s high-flying reserve side.

Hamilton is confident that McMahon’s young players have what it takes to beat Newry City next week too and so they will keep their spot in the squad for the final.

“We told the boys who played in the semi-final that if they performed and got to the final, I wouldn’t be bringing the first team guys back in for it,” said the boss.

“We’ll go into the final with the same squad of players who played in the semi-final because we don’t want a situation where players get the team to a final then all of a sudden they’re not in the squad.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for our young players to play in a final. The same team beat Dungannon so we’re quite confident that they can do the same against Newry. The one thing with young players is that you know you’ll get work-rate, commitment and desire.”

And with the first-team currently struggling after three successive defeats, Hamilton says that the youngsters could even be playing for a place in his squad for the Carling Premiership game against Glentoran three days later.

Hamilton said: “It’s open to everybody again because nobody’s sure of a place bar Brendy (Shannon) and Niall Henderson. Nobody can justify knocking on my door if they’re not in the team against Glentoran because nobody played well against Ballymena.”

As for Glenavon’s opponents for the final, Newry City are currently flying high, second place in the Belfast Telegraph Championship One with just three defeats from 16 league matches.

Hamilton even wants his team to replicate some of the traits that are helping City to success:

“Newry are doing really well in their league. I know a few of their players and I’m really impressed with what Pat (McGibbon)’s doing down there. He’s doing a very good job there and he says that they’re where they are because they work hard. No matter if they win, lose or draw, one thing you can guarantee is that they’ll work hard and put in the effort.

“Pat has got all of the qualities in his players that we’re looking to bring into Glenavon at the minute.”