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Lurgan Blues will need to fight for Euro spot: Tuffey

 

By Graham Luney

Jonny Tuffey has called on his Glenavon team-mates to dig deep to hit the European jackpot this week. The Lurgan Blues are at Cliftonville tonight (7.45pm) in the Europa League play-off semi-final, with the winners taking on either Ballymena United or Dungannon Swifts on Friday night.

Glenavon have endured an inconsistent campaign, winning and drawing 13 matches as well as losing 12 as they finished in sixth position in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Irish Cup semi-final loss to Coleraine was a significant blow but they still have the opportunity to end the campaign with a bang through the European shootout.

"It's another massive opportunity for the club," said Tuffey. "We have got to prepare right and be ready for it because the financial gains are huge for any Irish League club.

"If we were to qualify it would greatly enhance the manager's budget so it's massive for the club to be back in Europe again, no matter who we play.

"The club has had a good run in Europe, it's a nice finish for the club and a great experience for the players, particularly the younger ones. We want to give it our best shot and competing at the top of end of the table and in Europe.

"It's a difficult game. Whether it was going to be Ballymena United or Cliftonville didn't really matter.

"It will be a tough test for the lads and we will need to be at our very best to get through."

Former Linfield stopper Tuffey has also been impressed by his old club's march towards a domestic treble.

"It's a fantastic achievement for Linfield and I'm delighted for David Healy," he added. "He obviously took a lot of stick but he's a friend of mine and we played together.

"Fair play to him, he's done a great job there as have the players. To come back from nine points behind Crusaders to win the league is a fantastic achievement.

"Coleraine have also been superb and it's great for the league to see the country teams to well and it makes it more competitive.

"That can only enhance the reputation for the league and make it better."

Fans are encouraged to take part in a minutes applause in the third minute of tonight's game in memory of club legend Tony Scappaticci who passed away last week.

• Crusaders have confirmed that striker Jordan Owens has signed a two-year extension to his contract.

Midfielder Richard Clarke, however, has left Seaview.

And Coleraine have confirmed that Jordan Allan has left the club following the expiry of his contract.

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