Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar has rejected the need for time to gel a Lurgan Blues panel in a period of transition following high-profile departures and a series of New Year deals.
A trip tonight to a Glentoran side growing in confidence presents another challenge for Glenavon following recent struggles across the Danske Bank Premiership and Irish Cup.
The club’s love affair with the Irish Cup as winners across 2014 and 2016 turned into a nightmare last Monday night at home to Dungannon Swifts.
It marked another game to forget for a Glenavon squad currently drawing confidence from wins over Amateur League-based Rosemount Rec in the Irish Cup and Danske Bank Premiership basement side Ards since the start of 2019.
Glenavon finished the January transfer period with Cameron Stewart arriving on loan from Linfield alongside permanent deals for Robert Garrett, Eoin Wearen and Seamus Sharkey. Robbie Norton came back from loan.
Dylan King’s departure to Coleraine and a Cliftonville loan switch for Niall Grace proved New Year exits alongside transfers of Mark Sykes and Ben Doherty. Gary Muir and Steo Donnelly left by mutual consent and Jack O’Mahony returned to Harland and Wolff Welders on loan.
However, Millar is refusing to highlight the reshuffle as an excuse for limited returns.
“It was probably our fittest and strongest squad in a few months, having gone over periods of looking at a bench full of schoolboys,” he said after the cup exit. “We came into the match feeling the new boys signed in January have settled in well and that quality gave us options to call on.
“It’s too easy to say it came too soon off our January business because basically everyone in the starting side had played together.
“The Irish Cup game has gone but the fact it has slipped through our fingers hurts.
“We’ve really good support here - from boardroom level, the supporters and everyone around the club - and know how much everyone wanted it.
“The Irish Cup is so special to this club and such a big competition given how difficult it is for Glenavon to win the league title.
“We did so many wrong things in so many wrong areas and cannot afford a single player not weighing in but half the boys failed to turn up.
“Now it’s about regrouping for the rest of the season, with European qualification still a target.”
One former Glenavon player currently enjoying a rich run of form in Glentoran colours is Robbie McDaid.
The Oval supporters’ Player of the Month for January, ex-Glenavon youth prospect McDaid is relishing his role following Gary Smyth’s promotion to first-team manager.
“Since ‘Smicker’ has taken over we’ve picked up again and we’ve done fairly well in the games since,” said McDaid on the official Glentoran website. “He’s given me a new role in the team and has told me to go and express myself, which has worked well so far.
“He’s given me the responsibility to suss out how the games are going and where I can pick up positions in the final third to get on the ball and hurt teams.
“I still see myself as a striker but with this new role I can play as a striker, winger or even in the hole depending on how the game’s going.
“Hopefully between now and the end of the season I can continue to contribute and help us win and finish as high as we possibly can.”