EDDIE McCallion believes Glenavon manager, Gary Hamilton is the perfect candidate to fill the vacant managerial post at Derry City.
The former Brandywell favourite knows Hamilton well from their time together at Blackburn Rovers as teenagers in the late 90s and having played under him for two years at Mourneview Park.
And McCallion reckons the ex-Northern Ireland international, named Irish Premiership ‘Manager of the Month’ for October, ticks all the boxes in terms of being a successful manager on Foyleside.
Hamilton has emerged as a late runner to succeed Kenny Shiels as City boss with sources in Belfast claiming he could meet with Board members in the coming days.
While former Candy Stripes’ manager, Declan Devine is still very much in the frame, McCallion, who lifted the FAI Cup with Derry City in both 2002 and 2006, reckons Hamilton is worth considering.
Having guided Glenavon to two Irish Cups and to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership this season, Hamilton’s stock is rising, however, he’s contracted to the Lurgan Blues until 2022.
The Waringstown native was a close friend of the late Mark Farren who also played under him at Mourneview Park, as well as former Derry City midfielder, Ciaran Martyn.
Derry’s Head of Youth Development, Paddy McCourt also spent a short spell with Hamilton at Glenavon on his return from England.
And while McCallion believes it would be difficult to prise the 38 year-old away from his boyhood club, he reckons it would be a major coup for Derry to secure his services.
"Glenavon were cut adrift at the bottom of the league and in danger of relegation when Gary came in but he turned things around,” said McCallion.
“He ticks all the boxes for the Derry job. He always liked to develop young players. Age was never an issue with him and he was never afraid to give young players an opportunity.
“He has the potential to do a great job at Derry with it being a full-time set-up. It would be hard for him to leave Glenavon but he has a lot of friends up here and he’s held in high regard. He likes to play football the right way and he’s a football man.”
Hamilton’s limited experience of League of Ireland football may prove an obstacle but McCallion believes he has adequate knowledge of the league and will have no shortage of help if required.
“He would know a lot of people in the league and he’s been to plenty of games, so he would have good knowledge of the players.
“And he would know enough people who can steer him in the right direction. The likes of Tony Grant (ex-Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Drogheda striker) who spent time up at Mourneview with him and plenty of others.”
The former City right-back believes whoever eventually lands the Brandywell post is facing ‘a hell of a job’.
“It’s a great opportunity for whoever comes in to put their own stamp on the team but whoever it is, the fans and the board need to get fully behind the manager.
“They need to be patient with them and everyone must come together because the way it is now can’t be sustained.
“A new manager will hopefully generate that feel-good factor at the club again and bring people back on board. But Gary certainly ticks the boxes and with Paddy (McCourt) in there as well it’s going to benefit the club with regards the youth development. No matter who comes in they’ll be faced with a hell of a job.”
When contacted about the speculation last night, Glenavon Chairman, Mr Adrian Teer simply said there had been no contact from Derry.
“There has been no contact from Derry City and Gary is contracted to the club until 2022.”