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Glentoran vow to support John McGuigan after drugs arrest

By Graham Luney

Glentoran will remove John McGuigan from the firing line and support him following his arrest last weekend, says boss Eddie Patterson.

The 20-year-old winger is suspected of selling ecstasy tablets to revellers at Shine nightclub on University Street in the south of the city.

McGuigan was arrested by police in the early hours of Sunday after being detained by door staff at the Belfast venue.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that the player was arrested for alleged possession of Class A drugs and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.

It is understood a quantity of white powder and a number of tablets were seized by police at the scene.

McGuigan was released on bail and a report sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Glentoran are stunned by the news and they are now waiting to see what fate awaits their player.

However, the club acknowledges that it has a duty of care to the youngster who has also represented Northern Ireland at youth level.

Patterson accepts that McGuigan will need support after the disturbing development and he is not in the right frame of mind to perform for Glentoran who host Ballymena United in the Premiership tonight.

"We have a duty of care to John and we will give him as much support as we can," said the Glens boss (pictured).

"It's important that he gets the right counselling to get him through this difficult experience.

"John needs help and we can help him get that help. We must wait and see what the Public Prosecution Service does and then assess the situation.

"I have spoken to John and he is naturally very upset.

"It would be wrong of me as Glentoran manager to ask him to play football when this matter is on his mind.

"It is only right he is given time to come to terms with what has happened.

"He is 20-years-old and been a regular in our first team. International managers have also recognised his talent.

"Glentoran have a zero tolerance policy regarding drugs and that message is clear. But right now we are determined to give John the help and support he needs.

"Former Glentoran player Rory Hamill once failed a random drug test but recovered from that low point.

"John may have made a mistake but we all do and we all learn from them."

Glentoran added in a statement on their website: "Despite recent speculation, Glentoran Football Club confirms that at present no employee of the club has been charged with a criminal offence relating to illegal drugs.

"Glentoran is a local football club with a long standing link to and participation in the broader community.

"The club has since 1882 had an absolute and ongoing commitment to youth development in football.

"As such the club has a zero tolerance approach to illegal drugs in any form. The club will always act in accordance with those principles."

Meanwhile, Patterson has major injury concerns on his mind ahead of the Sky Blues showdown.

Jason Hill, Calum Birney and Jay Magee are all rated doubtful and may be wrapped in cotton wool with the Irish Cup quarter-final with Glenavon at The Oval looming on Monday.

"It's a massive test for us and made even tougher with the injuries and suspensions that have reduced our options," added Patterson.

"It's well documented about the players we have lost last summer and in January and we are doing the best we can with a depleted squad. Long term injuries to key players David Howland and Marcus Kane have been cruel blows as well.

"Over the last few weeks we have been playing with only two or three players from last season's Irish Cup final winning team and that shows you the changes that are taking place here.

"The turnover of players has been significant and it's an ongoing rebuilding process here.

"I would love to have more experience in the squad but we will keep competing with hunger and a desire to improve.

"Jason Hill, Calum and Jay are major injury doubts and we would not want to be without them for the Irish Cup game on Monday night either."

Glentoran and the Sky Blues are still scrapping to secure their place in the top half of the table before this month's league split and despite that uncertainty, Patterson remains a fan of the league format.

"There's quite a few teams in the mix for the top six going into the split so the games will be very competitive," he added.

"Those are the cards we have been dealt and we must respond to the challenge.

"Personally, I think the split is a good idea because there's plenty to fight for at the top, middle and bottom of the table.

"Two teams are going for the title but others want to pin down a European place.

"The league title run-in throws up some feisty battles so anyone who comes through that will be worthy winners."

Belfast Telegraph


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