Belfast Telegraph

Mallards on alert as Grant McCann is tipped to weave his magic for Blues

By Stuart McKinley

Whitey Anderson expects Linfield new boy Grant McCann to have a major impact on the Danske Bank Premiership title race - but he hopes it won't start until after the weekend.

And the Ballinamallard United boss is adamant that two of his players, centre-half and captain Mark Stafford and midfielder David Kee, won't be joining McCann at Windsor Park this month.

Linfield manager Warren Feeney sent out a strong statement of intent when he announced the signing of 39-times capped former Northern Ireland midfielder McCann earlier this week and he wants to add more new faces to his squad before the January transfer window closes.

McCann is the only new addition so far and Anderson knows all about the 34-year-old, who is expected to make his debut against the Mallards tomorrow.

"I'm a Northern Ireland fan, I've watched Grant McCann throughout his international career and he is a quality player - but I never thought I would see him playing at Ferney Park," said Anderson.

"He is a big signing for Linfield and it will bring a bit more focus to the league and some added interest to this match.

"He is a genuine talent and his experience, his professionalism and his ability from set pieces will bring a lot to the Linfield squad.

"What Linfield do doesn't really concern me. I don't have the chequebook to go out and sign players like that and when I see some of the signings that are being made I just have to step back and say well done, because it's something that we can't do."

Anderson does want to bring in at least one new signing himself - finance permitting - and after doing some ground work he is hoping for some positive news early next week on that front.

And it is arrivals rather than departures that Anderson is interested in.

"I've spent a fair bit of time on the telephone and I am trying to bring one or two players in if I possibly can," he said.

"I know the areas that I want to strengthen, but whether I can do that remains to be seen.

"In the situation we are in I want to strengthen the squad, not weaken it and I can categorically say that Mark Stafford and Davy Kee won't be leaving the club this month."

One player that Anderson hopes can bring something to his squad in the final 13 games of the season is striker Anthony Elding.

The Englishman has scored six times this season, but injuries have restricted him to just 12 league appearances, something which has given the Mallards serious problems in attack as their 25 goals in as many league games is the lowest in the league.

"Anthony is a quality player and he showed that at the start of the season when he started so well," said Anderson.

"He is still our leading goalscorer - which probably says a lot about the problems we have had.

"He was carrying an injury and tried to play through it, but ended up out for three months.

"We have him back now and hopefully he can have an impact in the remaining games of the season.

"Four of the goals he scored were from open play, all of them inside the six-yard box. That is the type of player he is and if he can score us another six goals between now and the end of the season I think it will be a big help to us."

Elding isn't the only player that has been missing from Anderson's squad. He has been hit by injuries and suspensions, but the list of absentees is now getting shorter.

"We've struggled to get players on the pitch and eight of the squad are in their first season in the Premiership," said Anderson.

"We'll be a lot better equipped next season."

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