Belfast Telegraph

Jordan Stewart can make it big if he retains focus: Eddie Patterson

Portadown 1-1 Glentoran

By Stuart McKinley

Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson revealed that he has advised Jordan Stewart to focus on producing the goods for Glentoran ahead of any potential cross-channel transfer - with the knock-on effect that a dream move will then look after itself.

With Premier League clubs Crystal Palace and Stoke City showing an interest in the teenage star, it is no surprise that Stewart's head has been turned.

After also spending trial periods with both Middlesbrough and Peterborough United, the interest in Stewart is strong, but Patterson has told his brightest prospect that patience is the key for him.

Stewart did his chances of earning a move to full-time football no harm at all when he struck a sweet equaliser in the Glens' 1-1 draw at Portadown on Saturday, after Peter McMahon's 11th-minute opener.

The goal, 16 minutes from time, lit up a tight game - the Glens' first effort on target came a minute into the second half when Elliott Morris' long ball forward almost caught out his opposite number David Miskelly, who had to claw the ball away from under his crossbar.

The celebrations continued for Stewart after the game when he signed a two-year contract extension, taking him up to the summer of 2018.

Whether he is still a Glentoran player at that stage remains to be seen, but Patterson has no doubt that despite his small stature, he has a big talent on his hands and one that can make an impact in England if the move comes.

"Jordan isn't the biggest, but he can take the knocks and he can also give them out and for a wee man of his stature it's a great asset for us. On top of that the kid can play and that's the big, big bonus," said Patterson.

"I think his head's been turned by the wee bit of speculation and I sat down with him two weeks ago and talked about an extension to his contract.

"I told him that going across the water isn't everything and we would do all in our power to help him in getting that move, but I told him that there would be no change in the circumstances whether he's got a year on his contract, six months or two or three years.

"If he signed at least he would have peace of mind that he would be with Glentoran if nothing worked out and he has decided to do that and I'm delighted."

Patterson's delight is understandable. Since being brought into the first-team squad at the beginning of last season Stewart has now played 70 games and Saturday's goal was the 24th that he has scored in the green, red and black - and to think that he doesn't turn 20 until the end of this month.

As he ends his teenage years it is also understandable that Stewart may be beginning to think that the clock might be ticking on his opportunity of playing professionally, which is why his manager is working hard on keeping the player's feet on the ground.

"I think what Jordan needs to think about when he goes across to these places to weigh things up, is that he's got the technical ability, there's no doubt about that and he's got the physique, which he has proved in the Irish League, which is a very physical game," said Patterson.

"The only thing that he hasn't got is the height and maybe that wee bit of physical fitness, but that comes through full-time training and I think maybe from that point of view he's maybe a wee bit impatient in the fact that he thinks his fitness level should be what is required across the water at the minute.

"These things happen with young players who go across the water and it takes them a season or two to start knocking on the door and Jordan doesn't have that kind of patience."

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