Blow for Glentoran as cruciate injury rules McAlorum out for season
Glentoran skipper Stephen McAlorum's season is over. The 29-year-old midfielder received the news that every player dreads - that he requires surgery on a ruptured cruciate ligament injury.
McAlorum hobbled out of the 2-0 win against Cliftonville on December 19, unaware of how serious the injury was, until hospital scans revealed the extent of the damage.
"It's a massive blow to the player and the club," said Glentoran boss Alan Kernaghan.
"Stephen's is the second serious injury we've been hit with of late as Willie Garrett is also out for the rest of the season.
"He is a leader on the pitch and is very influential to the team.
"Stephen has been pivotal to what we are trying to do at the football club.
"He was producing his best spell of form when he sustained the injury, which is a shame, but I've no doubt he'll come back fitter and stronger next season."
Kernaghan takes his boys across town tomorrow for a Danske Premiership showdown with title holders Crusaders at Seaview.
Two of Kernaghan's transfer window signings, Chris Lavery and Danny McKee, are available, but Chris Morrow, who agreed a loan deal from Crusaders until the end of the season, must wait on his debut.
The Glens were left kicking their heels last weekend after their Irish Cup tie with Ards was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at the Oval.
And, following a disappointing festive period when they lost to Linfield and Dungannon Swifts, Kernaghan is eager for a bit of action.
"We hadn't a very enjoyable Christmas period in terms of results and we targeted the Ards game to get those defeats out of our system," added the former Republic of Ireland international.
"Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but it was out of our hands.
"Those defeats are now behind us and we must now look ahead with renewed determination.
"We face a difficult job against a Crusaders team that are sitting at the top of the tree.
"We played them at Seaview in my first game in charge - and they beat us well.
"I would like to think we are in a better position to make a fight of it this time - especially if we can keep 11 men on the pitch. Perhaps the players were trying too hard, but we made too many mistakes and conceded sloppy goals - I would like to think we will learn from that."
The main threat to Glentoran will be posed by the intimidating Jordan Owens, who last week became the club's all time record goal scorer, having hit the net 158 times.
A presentation will be made before kick-off to the big 26-year- old by Glenn Hunter, the former holder of the record.
"Jordan deserves all the plaudits," said Crues boss Stephen Baxter, who has agreed to release unsettled striker Stephen O'Flynn.
"Jordan came here as a boy and has grown into one of the best strikers in the league.
"He wants to learn and he's a joy to work with.
"He has now beaten the record, but he'll go on and create his own little piece of history by some distance," the manager added.