Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Big guns target Ballymena United starlets

Ballymena United’s promising rebuilding process is in serious danger of falling in around Roy Walker.

The Sky Blues boss looked to have laid solid foundations at Warden Street with exciting young talent such as Nathan Hanley and Michael Smith setting the tone.

But the unwelcome result of burgeoning talent is that the vultures start to circle and now look primed to pounce.

Former Hull City trainee Hanley had shaken hands with Walker on a new deal but he has now decided to speak to Glentoran and Linfield who have registered their interest in a player who is out of contract in the summer.

As a result Hanley has been slapped on the transfer list by the club while Smith, who has met with the Blues, also looks certain to be on his way.

And Richard Gibson’s return to goals has also caught the attention of the Glens, so it leaves Walker with a headache.

He feels the unwelcome attention from other teams played a major part in his side’s midweek defeat by Crusaders and thus it could be a very different side that takes on the same opponents today at the Showgrounds.

“It’s really unsettling. It’s horrible and it’s an awful system that we work in,” he commented.

“All clubs are the same and it’s jaundiced in that it favours the big teams and they’re the lure. When they come calling people always get interested in that.

“Irrespective of that, when you go out with a shirt on you should play with a degree of pride and I didn’t see that for the first time this season. We were just woeful.”

With Tuesday evening’s JJB Sports Irish Cup replay with Glentoran also to consider, his selection today will be an interesting dilemma.

“We need players who have clear heads and a clear focus and we quite obviously didn’t have that and that’s disappointing because Ballymena are good to their players and we need to see more from them,” he added.

“If I have the personnel I will change it on Saturday. I don’t have much but I have a reserve team there so we’ll be sure we’ll get 11 players out but we do need to freshen it. On Tuesday I could give two pass marks and you can’t win a game from that position.”

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