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Don’t rule Glentoran out of Euro play-off race: Haveron

By Alex Mills

Gary Haveron believes a top-six place in the Danske Bank Premiership is still a possibility for erratic Glentoran, but admits there is no room for error in the countdown to the split.

Although the east Belfast men remain four points behind seventh-placed Dungannon Swifts, Haveron clings to hopes of achieving his ambition of joining the big boys for the final five games.

That optimism will be put to the test tomorrow when Gary Hamilton brings his impressive Glenavon side to The Oval.

“This is a massive challenge,” said Haveron. “Glenavon are sitting in the top six — the position that I targeted at the start of the league campaign.

“For one reason or another, it hasn’t happened. Yes, we were badly hit by injuries really since the outset, but Glentoran Football Club needs to be in the top six.

“It is still possible. If we can get three points at the weekend, it would take us a step closer to our goal. European football is vitally important for this club in terms of financial return, so we need to be in with a chance, courtesy of the play-offs.”

Haveron has already begun preparations for next season. He revealed: “I’m working on a few deals. You have to start preparing at this time of the year.

“It’s difficult because I have yet to be given my budget for the new season, so I don’t really know at this moment in time what funds will be available.

“My hands were tied in the January transfer window. We were at the top end of our budget. I’ve been assessing the squad since I took the job and, to be honest, I thought we would have been in a better position than we are in.

“We’ve had some positive results, but they have been overshadowed by a series of poor performances.

“It would be fair to say that some of the players haven’t taken the opportunity to make it difficult for me not to offer them a contract.”

Haveron is demanding a vast improvement on their last home game, which resulted in a 1-0 defeat by lowly Ballinamallard United. He said: “That result was a real body blow. Yes, we had plenty of possession, but this game is all about putting the ball in the net. If you don’t do that, you don’t win football matches.

“We squandered the good chances that came our way. It was particularly disappointing because Dungannon and Glenavon also lost that day, so it meant we let another good chance of reeling back points slip through our fingers.”

On the plus side, Haveron’s squad will almost be at full strength for the Glenavon dust-up — only Willie Garrett and David Scullion, who are out long-term, are missing.

“Nacho Novo is still waiting on his appeal to be heard on his six-game ban, so he’s available until the appeal process takes place,” added Haveron, who is looking to his strike force of Stephen O’Flynn and Curtis Allen to shoot them up the table.

“Big O’Flynn did really well against Ards, scoring twice a few weeks ago. There is no question, if we can get O’Flynn and Allen going up front, they have goals in them. Against Ballinamallard, he never got the service he needed.

“When you look at the points we have lost to teams in the bottom half of the table, it’s criminal. But it’s something we can put right before the split.”

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