Gary Hamilton has no regrets over his decision to axe Joel Cooper from Saturday’s starting side - and the Glenavon manager insists he will continue to make the tough calls he considers in the best interests of the club.
Reports that Cooper had signed a pre-contract agreement to join Linfield served as a distraction to Glenavon preparations for the weekend Windsor Park visit just 24 hours before the Danske Bank Premiership date.
As a result, Hamilton made a choice to take Cooper out of the spotlight by placing the winger on his substitutes’ bench rather than risk negative pressure on the Northern Ireland under 21 international.
Hamilton’s call proved correct as Glenavon left Belfast bolstered by a well-earned 3-2 win over the defending champions. And Hamilton opted to highlight the situation as evidence of the high value the manager puts on trust within his changing room.
“The press report the day before our game was clear that not only had Joel been in talks with Linfield but it had reached the point the player had signed a pre-contract agreement, which Linfield had lodged with the Irish FA as a three-year deal,” said Hamilton. “I spoke to Joel and he confirmed discussions with Linfield, which is his right as a player in the final six months of his contract.
“But he was adamant he had not signed any paperwork, which I accepted as his word to me and the club.
“However, I made the call not to start Joel, although he came on for a few minutes as a late substitute.
“The speculation created a difficult situation and put him under the potential for negative scrutiny.
“He is back available for selection in the starting side and I would never expect to discover that there was a lie but it is also important to note that, under those circumstances, with any player there would be repercussions.
“There have been numerous examples of decisions made once someone proves we can no longer trust him.
“Trust forms the backbone of what we try to do.”