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Andy needs to be playing for the best, says Swifts boss

By Graham Luney

Andrew Mitchell is set to remain at Dungannon Swifts for the rest of the season and manager Rodney McAree says he would like the striker to join one of the most successful teams in the top flight if he leaves Stangmore Park in the summer.

The Danske Bank Premiership's top clubs, including Crusaders and Linfield, are chasing his signature as well as Glenavon where he had a spell as a teenager.

Mitchell is the Premiership's brightest diamond after racing to the top of the goalscoring charts with 18 strikes this season, five clear of Crusaders duo Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley.

The Crues have tabled a big offer for his services but the goal-getter, who turns 23 this month, is from Waringstown and there is an emotional pull towards Mourneview Park where his father is a steward.

Swifts chiefs have decided that they do not want to sell Mitchell this month and the player is happy to stay with the Tyrone men until the end of the season.

That will buy the player some time to carefully consider his next move and McAree feels his lethal frontman deserves to shine for the best club in the country.

"Andrew Mitchell will make the right decision for himself when the time is right but I think if he stays in the Irish League he deserves to be playing for the very best teams, right now you are talking about Crusaders and Linfield," says the Swifts boss.

"You want to be part of a team that wins silverware but I can also understand his affinity with Glenavon having started his career there.

"But I tend to believe that you can't let too much emotion come into big decisions like this.

"It's a big call to make in your career and you want to what is best for yourself, not for other people.

"The pleasing thing is he has indicated he's happy to stay with us and that tells me he is enjoying his football. He enjoys training and he's really developed as a footballer. It would take a ridiculous transfer fee for the club to sell him in January and the board has decided the club wants Andrew to stay here.

"If we sold our best player, what signal would that send out? It would take a stupid offer for the club to sell."

Mitchell, who had a spell at Ards after his early years at Glenavon, says he's in no rush to make the big call and he's also focused on finishing his teaching degree at Stranmillis College this year.

He says: "I can't let all the transfer talk distract me and it won't as I have a job to do for Dungannon.

"I want to keep scoring goals for the club and fire them up the table. I've spoken to the club and, as far as both parties are concerned, I'm happy to stay until the end of the season.

"I have a big few months coming up and I need to focus on my teaching studies and continue to play well for Dungannon.

"It is flattering to know that clubs have shown an interest in me but you cannot rush into a decision like that."

Darren Murphy who, along with McAree, brought Mitchell to Stangmore Park, believes a return to Glenavon is a real possibility.

"He's from Waringstown and his dad is a steward at Glenavon so that move back to the Lurgan Blues might be hard to resist," says Irish FA elite performance coach Murphy.

"A club like Crusaders might be able to offer him more money but he's a level headed boy who would not be sidetracked by that. He's a genuine nice lad and he may want to go back to Glenavon to finish what he started. The leaving of Glenavon was the making of him and the greater exposure and experience he has gained has transformed him into a brilliant striker.

"And how could Dungannon replace a player of that quality? The club has helped players develop and mature and I know Andrew is very appreciative of the help and support he has received at the Swifts. He's worked hard and he's got the talent to have a fantastic career."

• Portadown have confirmed that Callum Ferris became the youngest player to appear for the club at 15 years 182 days, breaking the record held by Davy Cochrane, in Tuesday night's 5-0 loss to Glentoran.

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