Belfast Telegraph

Ross Glendinning can prove a safe pair of hands at Linfield

By Stuart McKinley

Warren Feeney won't search for a new goalkeeper after the release of Jonny Tuffey.

Instead, the Linfield manager will install Ross Glendinning as his new number one.

And that will allow Feeney to go all out to strengthen his attack as he attempts to end a three-year title drought.

Signing at least one top class striker is Feeney's priority ahead of next season, now that he has decided there is no need to begin hunting for a replacement for Tuffey.

Glendinning was first choice from the beginning of November until the end of February and although Feeney put Tuffey back in for the title run-in, he saw enough in the previous four months to convince him to put his faith in the young man, who turns 22 next week.

He will now compete with former Northern Ireland under-17 and under-19 international Gareth Deane for the starting slot next season.

"I have two good goalkeepers that I have confidence in," said Feeney.

"Ross played 20 games in a row during the season and he will benefit greatly from that experience.

"There has been interest in Gareth Deane from around the league and I am not surprised by that.

"I have never doubted him, he has a great physique and his kicking is excellent.

"Jonny Tuffey is a great professional, but I had to make a decision about him and now I will put my confidence in these two boys and I expect them to respond."

Glendinning impressed sufficiently during his extended run in the team to be handed a new contract in December, which will run for the next two seasons.

Twenty-year-old Deane, who was at Queens Park Rangers in his youth, has limited first-team experience at the Blues, having played only once before being selected for the final game of the season against Portadown, although he did have a spell on loan at Carrick Rangers.

With that position sorted out and Chris Hegarty's return to fitness expected to bolster the defence, it's the forward areas that Feeney will now prioritise.

After letting Peter Thompson and Sammy Morrow leave the club after their contracts expired, Feeney knows that he must now up his game in the striker search.

He was met with disappointment in his pursuit of Daniel Hughes, who opted to re-sign for Warrenpoint Town, but has other targets in that area.

One of those is Dungannon Swifts youngster Jamie Glackin, but they face stiff competition from Crusaders, Glentoran and Derry City for the talented 20-year-old.

"Up front is where our problems lay last season," said Feeney.

"Andy Waterworth scored 22 goals last season, Aaron Burns scored 20 from midfield, but nobody else hit double figures.

"Crusaders had three players who scored over 20 goals and that was the difference.

"We need to get one or two strikers in and try to turn that around, as well as taking some of the burden off Andy."

Feeney also revealed that out-of-contract pair Ivan Sproule and Michael Carvill are mulling over new offers, but there is also interest in both players from other clubs.

Half of Carvill's 38 appearances during the season just finished came as a substitute and although Sproule started 27 games during an injury-hit campaign, he is now 34-years-old and considering other options.

"I would like them both to stay," added Feeney.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph