Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton knows his side have their work cut out as they travel to both third place Crusaders and title chasing Linfield this weekend.
The Blues make the trip to Seaview (7.45pm)on Friday before taking on David Jeffrey’s side at Windsor Park on Monday (8pm)
“I think this is probably the toughest week we’ll have this season,” said Hamilton.
“Crusaders away will be very hard. They’ve just been beaten by their nearest rivals and it’s not easy meeting teams after that. You don’t want to play Linfield after they’ve been beaten by Glentoran, Crusaders after they’ve been beaten by Cliftonville or Portadown after they’ve been beaten by Glenavon, or vice versa.
“That’s the way it is in football. Managers want to see a reaction after that. Seaview’s not an easy place to go at the best of times but last week’s defeat doesn’t make it any easier.”
Glenavon have infamously struggled on Crusaders’ 3G surface but Hamilton thinks that run may be about to end.
He said: “We go to Crusaders a lot better prepared and more able to cope with the playing surface. We have a lot more younger players about the club now. They proved against Portadown that they’re good enough.
“We’ll go there on Friday better equipped than we’ve ever been and hopefully we can get our first result there since I took over.”
After that, Hamilton is aiming to throw a spanner in the works of Linfield’s title chase but thinks David Jeffrey’s recently announced resignation may make that task harder.
“The players will feel they’ve let him down and feel they have to win the title for him to repay him for the situation they’re in,” he said.
“The results over the last while have led to David making his decision to retire at the end of the season. With that, the players will want to make up for that and win the title for him.
“If they’re going to do that, they’ll have to win every game from now until the end of the season because Cliftonville are on a fine run of form. The emphasis is on them and, at the minute, it looks like the title will be theirs but if anybody is going to change that, it’ll be Linfield and David Jeffrey.
“We fancy our chances wherever we play. Nothing is out of our capabilities. We’re not going to win league titles because we don’t have the consistency but we can win one off matches and beat big teams. We can give them a match but if we don’t play well, we could get a drubbing.”
Hamilton will again look to utilise his full squad as his side chase a couple of upsets this weekend.
“The older players will find it hard to play on the 3G surface so that rules out a few players straight away.
“They’ll not be involved on Friday night but we can utilise the squad and the players proved last Saturday that any of them can play week-in, week-out. They’ve set those standards now and they have to keep playing at those levels.”