Linfield manager David Jeffrey has intensified negotiations with Dungannon Swifts for the transfer of striker Mark McAllister who last season rejected a bid to join Glasgow Celtic.
The Blues, battling hard against much adversity to retain the Irish Premiership for the fourth successive season, want McAllister to join Derry City’s Kevin McHugh, Michael Carvill and the recuperating Glenn Ferguson in what would then become a fierce strike-force.
Jeffrey has revealed they had made another offer to the Stangmore Park management after the initial one did not measure up to requirements.
It seems unlikely any deal can be brokered before Linfield’s crucial re-arranged Premiership game against Cliftonville at Windsor Park tomorrow when JP Gallagher, the former Swifts full-back, and McHugh may start.
Saturday’s 1- l draw with Newry City meant Glentoran leapfrogged them into top spot— a point ahead setting the scene for a Big Two dogfight which could go to the wire, in a series which has created more competition without improving attendances certainly where away fans are concerned.
Travelling support for many clubs is abysmal.
Linfield have had a roller coaster season, are passing through a transitional stage, with 13 regular players on the long and medium term injured list while some summer signings have not reached the standard required by the Blues.
To find them challenging for the title in these circumstances is quite remarkable. Saturday’s wind-swept match was basically two points lost. There cannot be many repeats, especially at home, if they are to become champions again.
“I’m frustrated,” admitted Jeffrey at the end of 90 windswept minutes in which Linfield had 80 per cent possession and handed Newry an own goal when Aidan O’Kane , attempting a clearance, deflected the ball past the keeper Alan Mannus.
O’Kane, however, made amends in the final minutes intercepting Stephen Garrett’s shot turning it for a corner — a shot which seemed a certain goal. What an upset that would have been.
Linfield, whose equaliser came from Michael Carvill’s 78th minute header, will obviously be cutting back on personnel but movement in that department is slow and the number of quality players limited, while Paul McAreavey has spoken to Ballymena United and is now considering whether to accept the offer or just stay at Windsor.
As well as collecting domestic trophies Linfield’s main target is European football next season with its big money UEFA guarantee and they await too the Government announcement – (the Blues submitted business plan is currently being reviewed) - on the refurbishing of Windsor Park now the multi-purpose national sports stadium appears to be a non-starter. That is a story for another day.
Newry manager Gerry Flynn, who felt a draw was the proper outcome considering the chances created revealed there had been behind-the-scenes talks with management last week to ensure the club progressed. “Under achievement must stop,” he said.
Coleraine winger Darren Cassidy has joined Newry City along with Banbridge Town striker Paul Keenan and more new signings are in the pipeline.