Patterson rues Allen loss as chase for Europe hots up
Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson admits the loss of banned striker Curtis Allen is a massive blow to his team's European qualification hopes.
Patterson takes his east Belfast troops down the M1 tomorrow for a showdown against Glenavon at Mourneview Park.
Both clubs are eyeing up that lucrative third spot in the Danske Premiership table, along with Cliftonville and Portadown, who are only three points better off.
But Patterson, who was this morning named the BT Sports Manager of the Month, must negotiate his way through the maze without his talisman for the next two games - he will also miss Tuesday's Big Two clash against Linfield at the Oval.
"Curtis will be a massive loss - his suspension comes at a really bad time," said Patterson.
"He is out for two games. He has been hitting goals over the last number of weeks... he bagged his 20th last week against Dungannon, which is a great return, considering he was out for four or five weeks injured earlier in the season.
"Curtis has hit 26 goals in 54 appearances which is virtually one in every two games.
"Yes, it's a big blow, but is an opportunity for someone else to come in and do the business for us.
"Young Jordan Stewart has got 15 or 16 goals and Stephen Gordon is on 10.
"So we have been getting goals from midfield as well, which has been a big plus.
"There are only three points of a difference from the team in third place to the team in sixth.
"And, we've now got to play each other over the coming weeks.
"It means our game against Glenavon will be a real massive match."
Patterson's latest personal award is his eighth in 10 years, but the last time he picked up the manager's prize was back in February 2013. He is contracted until the end of next season, but would relish the chance to finish what he started at the Oval.
"I have one year left of my contract and I would love to keep that going," he added.
"We are getting into a difficult situation now, though, because there are players we would like to speak to.
"The first thing is obviously do they want to play for Glentoran?
"Then obviously they ask about finances and how long I will be there. I can't go beyond a year at this moment in time.
"Would I like to stay beyond that?
"Yes, of course I would. We are only partly through the job.
"When I took the post I told the board the system I wanted to play and we are getting there, but what we need now are a few experienced heads to help the young lads on.
"We want to be here to finish the job.
"I wasn't able to do that at Cliftonville but we are determined to do it here at Glentoran.
"I have a great backroom staff. We all took a cut to suit what the budget was.
"We've all been working on a pittance to be honest. But things are coming good.
"Not just because we have reached the Irish Cup final which is a fantastic achievement, but because of the way we are playing, and building something to restore this great club to where they should be."