Glentoran hitman Gibson gives Linfield cause for concern
There is no doubt that Glentoran will miss the silky skills of Gary Hamilton if the striker cannot be unleashed on Linfield tomorrow night.
But the Blues would be wrong to believe they will stroll to victory at the Oval as Hamilton looks on nursing a toe injury.
The five-times capped Northern Ireland international feared he fractured his toe during the 2-2 draw with Crusaders at the weekend.
And it would be a cruel twist of fate for the former Portadown hitman if he was forced to sit out tomorrow night’s Sky televised blockbuster.
The man who has just scooped the Carling Player of the Month prize for a seventh time was playing some of the best football of his career and Glentoran’s loss will be Linfield’s gain.
But boss Scott Young still has a few not so secret weapons he can unleash on the old enemy.
And one of them is a goal-getter who has an impressive record of finding the back of the Linfield net.
Cliftonville starlet Rory Donnelly isn’t the only striker giving the Linfield defenders sleepless nights.
While Darren Boyce and Andy Waterworth will pose an attacking threat, Richard Gibson is hungry to prove he belongs at the Oval by producing fireworks in the derby cracker.
And Linfield shouldn’t need any reminder of the 26-year-old’s sharp-shooting skills.
“I actually have a very good record against Linfield,” admitted Gibson who smashed in a hat-trick in the 5-1 demolition of Lisburn Distillery in the Paddy Power County Antrim Shield semi-final last month.
“The last time I played against them for Ballymena United I scored and when I was at Coleraine I must have scored five or six times against them.
“Of course I’d love another crack at Linfield, if you don’t want to be involved in these matches there’s something wrong with you.
“I know it’s probably strange and unusual to see Linfield lose two games to Cliftonville in quick succession, but that only means they will come to us all guns blazing with a point to prove.
“But it’s true that form goes out the window and on the night it’s 11 v 11 and any team is beatable in this league.”
Gibson admits Hamilton’s class and experience will be missed should the striker’s toe fail to recover in time.
“Since he has come back to Glentoran Gary has been brilliant and winning the Player of the Month award says it all,” he added.
“People have been saying this is the best football he has played and it’s difficult to argue with that. He’s just puts his head down and works hard for the team.
“It would be a massive shame if he missed this one as he would relish a big occasion like this.
“On the day we beat Linfield at Windsor Park Gary had an outstanding game and he showed again how he can influence a big match.
“He has also been scoring plenty of goals for us and is a real handful for any defence.”
Gibson, who also played for Glenavon and Dungannon Swifts, joined the Glens in a free transfer from Ballymena United in January.
There is no better way to repay the faith shown in him by his manager than to conjure up a winner against Linfield in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
“I’ve been involved in a run of games and hopefully I can get a few more,” added Gibson.
“My all-round play has been pretty good and I’m always looking to score goals.
“It was great getting a hat-trick in the Shield semi-final against Distillery and hopefully I can get another one soon.
“You must not let your performance level drop if you want to stay at a club like Glentoran.”