Belfast Telegraph

Linfield's Sammy Clingan fires out a title warning after Glenavon win

Linfield 4 -0 Glenavon

By Graham Luney

Sammy Clingan can sense something special is happening at Linfield.

The Northern Ireland international enjoyed his first full competitive game since wearing Kilmarnock colours in April, 2015 and his class and composure helped put Glenavon on the ropes.

Gary Hamilton's men were swept aside by an awesome team display from the Blues and one of the outstanding performers was Clingan who linked up superbly with Sean Ward in midfield.

The 32-year-old says he still gets nervous before big games and this was a big occasion for the former Nottingham Forest and Coventry City ace.

He was anxious to impress on his competitive Linfield debut but he needn't have worried. If the man who has 39 international caps can leave behind his injury nightmare then the game will reward him with more memorable moments.

"It's been a long, long time since I played 90 minutes," said Clingan. "I'm just glad that the chance came and I got through the game unscathed. I felt really good. I know I have to work hard on my fitness but I felt comfortable and my knee feels good which is pleasing. The rest of my body is like a normal 32-year-old! I want to play in every single game if my body will let me.

"I know it's going to be a tough season and the style of play is a bit different here. It is more hustle and bustle and you will take a few more knocks than across the water but I have adjusted to that and the boys have been brilliant with me in training.

"I won't lie, I'll always get nervous before a game even if I'm playing with my friends in the street. My girlfriend asked me if I'd be nervous and I said 'yes, I always am' but once the game starts and I get a few touches I'm dead on.

"It's a great surface to play on and from what I have seen there is more to come. I know we are better than that. We deserved to win 4-0 but the way the boys move the ball and create chances I know we can be better."

Blues boss David Healy is still pinching himself over the west Belfast man's arrival at Windsor Park.

"I've brought Sammy to the club and I felt fortunate to get him," said Healy.

"No disrespect to the Irish League or to Linfield, but if he had been fit for the last 18 months he would not be playing in the Irish League. His quality was obvious in his passing.

"He hasn't played a full game in what feels like forever but he reads the game so well. He sees the pass, gets it out of his feet, picks up second balls and just looks so comfortable. Hopefully he'll be a big player for us."

Aaron Burns netted twice, while Ward and Josh Carson also hit the target, but Glenavon could have suffered further damage, particularly after losing Rhys Marshall who was sent off for a late challenge on Chris Casement in the second half.

"I thought Roy Carroll made a massive difference to Linfield," said Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton. "The talking and keeping the defenders high restricted the service we could provide out wide. They picked up first and second balls and they were hungry to get on the end of crosses. We had a good support here but didn't show enough hunger, fight or desire."

Linfield: Carroll, Clingan, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth (Smyth, 67 mins), Millar (Fallon, 73 mins) Burns, Ward, Casement, Carson (Gaynor, 80 mins), Quinn. Unused subs: McLellan, Clarke

Glenavon: Tuffey, Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Hall (Sykes, 58 mins), Doyle, McGrory, Moorhouse, Martyn, Elebert (Lindsay, 34 mins), Bates (Hamilton, 63 mins). Unused subs: Patton, O'Brien

Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge)

Man of the match: Aaron Burns

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph


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