James Singleton on ‘sense of excitement’ thanks to Glenavon squad depth
Glenavon captain James Singleton has spent this week counting down the days to the season’s second Premiership appearance - aware of increased competition for places creating “a sense of excitement” heading into every fixture.
With international commitments impacting on the midweek top-flight club programme, it’s been a waiting game for Singleton and his Lurgan Blues team-mates to get back out on the pitch following last Friday’s 1-1 draw in the Mid-Ulster derby.
Glenavon will follow up that point in Portadown with a weekend trip to tackle Warrenpoint Town, offering Gary Hamilton’s players a second opportunity to register that first win of the league campaign.
And the drive for rewards has only been enhanced off a summer recruitment drive by the Mourneview Park club that included high-profile additions from Linfield of Andy Waterworth, Mark Haughey and Mark Stafford to add an extra edge to squad time together.
“Last season losing one player would have such a knock-on impact that an injury could force me to move inside to centre-back, which meant pulling Peter Campbell back to full-back and then having to make a choice for the left wing...so it’s the overall disruption,” said Singleton. “With such strong competition for a shirt now, you can see it across training the benefits when you add more winners into the group on top of the players already here from last season.
“Players hungry for trophies will not accept a drop in standards, even if it’s a case of winning or losing a training game.
“Our aim is to finish higher than last season and feel we’ve the squad to meet our objectives.
“You look along the whole back four now with the additions of Danny Wallace, Mark Haughey and Mark Stafford and there’s versatility and competition.
“We’ve now something like five players competing for two centre-back positions and having that strength in depth is going to be crucial.
“Then you see someone like Andy Waterworth coming in up top and he tests us across training plus will demand a certain level of service in games.
“You look at our options now in attack with Andy coming in on top of what Danny Purkis and Matthew Fitzpatrick delivered last season, then Josh Doyle coming off a great pre-season and Ross Hunter pushing on.
“There’s a real sense of excitement across our squad going into games.”
Glenavon’s second road trip of the schedule arrives off the mixed emotions of opening the campaign with a derby draw.
Portadown broke the deadlock on 91 minutes but a second injury-time goal - thanks to Michael O’Connor’s superb free-kick - helped to secure an end product for Glenavon.
“In the Mid-Ulster derby we felt we dominated and created plenty of chances so, on another day, could have finished with the win,” said Singleton. “Under the circumstances of conceding in injury-time, we have to feel good about the point - it was a great free-kick from Michael, he certainly has that ability from set-pieces.
“It’s tight between Michael and Andy Hall over who can do it better.
“Matthew Fitzpatrick scored a wonder goal early on as well - I’d love to see it back as it was ruled out for offside but looked like a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender!
“Gary (Hamilton, manager) told us in training during the week we had 13 or 14 chances to score so to only get one goal means we have to do better in that respect.
“But it is a positive to have us create so many chances and in a different game you could be coming away with a comfortable win.
““We go to Warrenpoint this weekend ready for a tough test.
“Our last trip there ended up in a 4-3 win for us...so we know just how tight these fixtures can be in Warrenpoint, plus they’ve added to the squad.”