Bring on the glens

Glenavon’s home support will have their first chance to see their new-look side on home turf this Saturday as the Blues host Glentoran in the Premiership (kick-off 3pm).

All of the Blues’ pre-season fixtures were away from home as the club waited for their re-laid pitch to be ready for action.

Following their 6-3 win over Ballymena, who would bet against the pitch being graced with another entertaining game?

Boss Gary Hamilton comes up against his former side, who have brought in six new signings, including former Glenavon trio Niall Henderson, Mark Miskimmin and David Scullion. The new signings, Hamilton says, will give the Oval side new life and he knows his side’s own new-look team will have to be at their best to get a result.

He said: “If we perform like we did last Saturday we can give any team a game. It’s important we do play like we did in that first half at Ballymena because teams like Glentoran don’t give you second chances - they punish you.

“There have been a few changes at Glentoran and they’ve got in younger players who will be hungry to take their opportunity to play at a big club.

“That sort of chance might not have come along a few years ago. Glentoran are used to signing more experienced players who are top of the pecking order in the league but now, like a lot of other clubs, they don’t have the finances to do that. They’re now having to sign less experienced players but they’ve signed good ones. They got a good result on Saturday and our scouts were impressed by them.”

Hamilton, as usual, is determined to leave his winning line-up untouched but could be forced into changes after William Murphy (thigh) and Ciaran Martyn (foot) were both withdrawn early at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

Definitely not making the line-up, is final piece of the jigsaw Shane McCabe, who joined the club last week and will only come into contention for the following Friday’s game at home to Coleraine.

Hamilton said: “He’ll have to get a reserve game in because he hasn’t played soccer for a while. He’ll have to get a feel for the ball but his fitness levels are immense. Shane’s a player that I’ve wanted to bring to the club since I got the job.

“Andy Kilmartin and Ciaran Martyn have been exceptional for us and we started with a good result with them in midfield on Saturday. It won’t be easy for Shane to get into the team but if he does, he’ll be hard to shift because he’s a top player.”

Winger Adam Foley could also come into contention for the Coleraine game while Marc Brown is still a month away from fitness and Brendan Shannon is still awaiting a scan on his troublesome knee.