GLENAVON boss Gary Hamilton will be putting out a strong team to face Glebe North on Saturday as he prepares his team for the Danske Bank Premiership beginning a week later.
The Blues travel to take on Glebe this weekend, kick-off 3pm, and Hamilton will be putting out all of his top players as he turns his eyes to the game against Cliftonville the following week.
That match will be made all the harder as Hamilton will be missing up to nine of his first team players.
“We tried to put out the strongest team possible on Saturday and we’ll do the same next week,” he said.
“It’s all gearing towards the opening game now. We’ll be missing Brendan Shannon and Andy Kilmartin through suspension and Andy McGrory’s on holidays, which was booked over a year ago, so we can’t fault him for that.
“We’ve also got a load of injuries in Turkington, Haughey, Lindsay, Hagan, Henderson and Mitchell. When you’re working with a squad of 21 players, you’re down to the bare bones when you take those players out.”
The boss also explained his decision to play a side predominantly made up of the club’s youth players in the 6-1 defeat to Newry City last week as he looks to blood the club’s young players.
“Hopefully we’ll have a couple back from injury in the next few weeks but at this minute in time we have 12 what you would call first team players available for the first league game,” he said.
“That’s why we have to play young guys, like we did against Newry. Fans will question why you do that but we need to test them to see who has the right mentality to be put in for the first game. Yes, we got beat 6-1 but I learnt so much about my players and who can stand up to the challenge.
“That’s why we play the young guys, it’s not to bring the club’s name down but to make the club better and to prepare ourselves for the season.”
One of the club’s youngsters, Michael Hynes, has particularly caught Hamilton’s eye and made his debut in the 6-1 win against Duleek on Saturday. The gaffer hopes that he can make the step up to the first-team this season after injury hampered his progress last term.
He said: “We had a young lad, Michael Hynes, playing on Saturday and he’s an excellent player.
“You talk about mentality and attitude and he sums it all up. He’s first class and any young lads looking to get into the first team should look at him.
“Boys like that will always have a good chance. Ability will get you so far but that attitude will get you further than most people.
“When I came to the club, Gerdie (McMahon) told me about him and told me that they felt he was ready for first team football.
“Then I asked him to come to training and the night before he did his knee when he was away with Northern Ireland. He had to get surgery and was out for the season so that’s why he hasn’t played yet.
“He’s only back from America now but he has a good pedigree behind him. He has been playing for the senior Antrim Gaelic team since he was 18. When you’re called up at that age, you have something about you because if you don’t have to right attitude, you wouldn’t be near a senior gaelic team.
“He’s a very fit and strong lad as well and what we’ve seen of him so far, we’re very impressed. Hopefully he’ll show us more of that in the next few weeks. The future’s bright for the club with people like him about.”