Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Oval kids can put on a show - Patterson hoping his Glentoran starlets can hit the big time

Bring it on: Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson at last night’s Danske Bank Premiership launch at Stormont

Eddie Patterson joked at last night's Danske Bank Premiership launch that "you'll never win anything with kids".

In reality, the budget cuts at Glentoran have been painful but the club has come close to the fire before and got burned.

There was very nearly a heavy price paid for overspending in the past but now it's talented youngsters rather than big money signings who are the centre of attention in east Belfast.

Glens boss Patterson throws his young cubs into the opening fixtures against Cliftonville on Saturday and Linfield on Wednesday knowing the going might be tough.

But the man who masterminded an Irish Cup win against the odds in May, 2013, is hoping the Glens can produce fireworks this season.

"I'm looking forward to the season," said Patterson.

"The only thing I am wary about is that we are a bit short up front. Curtis Allen has a suspension while Marcus Kane and Davy Howland aren't up to full speed fitness wise.

"When they are fully match fit they will be strong.

"What you get with young players is some inconsistency. That's the fear and we learned this with Jordan Stewart (pictured) last season. When we brought him in he was like a house on fire then two and a half months later he was almost burnt out as we had given him too many games.

"We had to include him in our line-ups and he suffered for that reason so hopefully this year we can keep more experienced players fit so we can introduce the younger players like Kim Nelson, Danny McKee, John McGuigan and Jordan. That was our plan last year but injuries hurt us.

"Every manager sets his sights on the top six, to face the best sides and have a chance of qualifying for Europe. Our first goal is to make the top six and then re-evaluate things."

One of the features of the Danske Bank Premiership is the conveyor belt of young talent producing the next generation of stars. Stewart enjoyed training with the Peterborough squad earlier this summer but despite positive noises coming out of the League One club there has been no deal done.

Good news then for the Oval faithful who want to see prodigious talent Stewart continue his development on Mersey Street. And it's another reminder to young players that if you take the Irish League by storm bigger clubs will take notice.

Patterson says: "I think in the past kids who went to the clubs in England were bigger and stronger and better developed physically than our boys but I don't think that's the case anymore.

"I think our teenagers are in good physical condition and they know that if they shine in the Irish League a move up the ladder may come.

"By all accounts Jordan enjoyed his time with Peterborough and he even played a match along with the training he received.

"We have seen players leave the Irish League and make it across the water and I think there's still a role we can play in helping players realise their potential."

Keeper Elliott Morris will don the captain's armband again for the Glens and aim to repeat last season's heroics which earned him a spot on the Team of the Season.

"It's a big challenge for us but I'm looking forward to it," said Morris. "I think having David Howland back fit and well for us is a huge bonus – he would make my list of the league's top five midfielders.

"Davy is a fantastic player. But we know we will be underdogs against the top sides.

"All the pressure will be on Cliftonville and Linfield in these opening two games so we're happy with that."

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