Belfast Telegraph

Stewart can be Boro boy

Patterson hopes rising star can live his dream after impressing on trial

By Graham Luney

Jordan Stewart's dream transfer to Middlesbrough has moved a step closer and Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson says he would happy to bid his rising star an emotional farewell… but not just yet!

Stewart has just returned from a trial at the Sky Bet Championship club and Boro coaches have been impressed by the attitude and ability of the 19-year-old.

Stoke City and Crystal Palace are also keen to bring Stewart over for a trial but Middlesbrough, who are only one point behind Bournemouth and Derby County in the Premier League promotion race, are leading the chase.

Stewart, who turns 20 in March, is arguably the brightest young talent in the Danske Bank Premiership and Patterson hopes the winger's full-time dream can be realised.

However, the Oval supremo's ideal scenario remains Glentoran keeping their sparkling gem until the end of the season and then wishing him good luck at the Riverside Stadium, Britannia Stadium or Selhurst Park.

"By all accounts Jordan has left a good impression on Middlesbrough but like any transfer the club has to weigh up several factors before making a decision," said Patterson.

"I was talking to their Academy manager and it seems that they are quite pleased with the qualities Jordan is showing in games and in training.

"I will not stand in any youngster's way when there is a possibility of a move to full-time football and neither will Glentoran.

"There's no question Jordan is one our game's outstanding young players.

"The ideal scenario for me is Jordan staying with us and then getting a move across the water at the end of the season.

"It's great for him that he has this opportunity and hopefully a big club can recognise his potential. I know Stoke City and Crystal Palace also want Jordan over for a trial and it's fantastic news because he deserves a chance in the full-time game.

"My job is to look after the club's interests but also support our young players in whatever way I can to see them fulfil their potential. I know some managers are reluctant to let players go on trial and I can understand that point of view but I have told Jordan we will do all we can to help him along this road while recognising the importance of him being available to play for Glentoran. In our conversations with young players we want to show them we have an interest in the players' future and that's paramount for me."

Warrenpoint Town have allowed their gifted young striker Daniel Hughes to attend a trial at Neil Lennon's Bolton this week but Crusaders will not entertain the thought of their winger Gavin Whyte leaving the club to go on trial.

Stewart outshone Whyte when the Glens were last in action and it was a dazzling performance which deepened Middlesbrough's interest in the player.

Despite losing 2-1 to the league leaders, the east Belfast side showed plenty of fighting spirit and character in that titanic battle and Patterson believes the club is well-equipped to end its poor run of results at Solitude tomorrow.

"I think we are on the right track," he added. "From this time last year we have made massive improvements and the players should be showing more belief and confidence in themselves and their team-mates.

"They will get something out of this season if they keep up the effort and work-rate. We are starting to play with more consistency. The boys have knuckled down and we have been more hit than miss of late. We are disappointed with the result against Crusaders but we created a lot of chances and the performance was top notch. There's a bit of a fear factor there as we haven't won at Solitude in a long time and it's a massive challenge for us to beat Cliftonville but the players should relish that."

The Reds are 12 points behind Crusaders with a game in hand and the margin for error in one section of north Belfast is now very slim but Patterson says their title hopes cannot be dismissed.

"Good teams can fight back and win titles and Cliftonville are a good team," added Patterson.

"In the last few weeks the Reds have won two trophies so nobody can knock their form or what they have achieved. I don't think anyone can say Cliftonville are out of the title race. At this stage last season they were about seven or nine points adrift and yet fought back to win it.

"They are a quality side with strength in depth and their players have been there and done it."

Defender Jay Magee remains on the transfer list following a breach of club discipline but the player doesn't want to leave Glentoran.

"Jay understands he will be judged by actions, not words," added the Glens boss.

"The big positive for us is that he does not want to leave the club."

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