Belfast Telegraph

Ex-Glentoran hero Jordan Stewart signs for Healy's Linfield

 

By Graham Luney

Linfield boss David Healy has moved swiftly to strengthen Linfield's position at the top of domestic football by announcing three big signings.

Former Glentoran hero Jordan Stewart has agreed to join the Blues on a pre-contract at the start of the new season while Robert Garrett returns to Linfield on a two-year deal following his Portadown exit.

Healy has also confirmed that versatile Crusaders defender Andrew Mitchell has signed for the club on a three-year contract.

But there are also some big name departures from Windsor Park, including midfielders Sean Ward and Sammy Clingan.

Ross Gaynor, Jonny Frazer, Michael McLellan and Kris Bright are also leaving the club.

Winger Stewart was released by League One side Swindon Town after two years at the club and Glentoran supporters will be disappointed he didn't return to The Oval to spark a revival in east Belfast.

Despite his Glentoran heroics - including an Irish Cup success in 2015 - Stewart comes from a Linfield-supporting family and this is an opportunity to kickstart his career after a move across the water failed to take off.

A dose of homesickness along with a knee injury curtailed his progress at Swindon but he is now hoping to enjoy his football again at Linfield under Healy.

And Linfield players who have been out on loan, TJ Murray, Adam Salley, Seanna Foster and David Kee, will not be returning to the club.

Goalkeeper Ross Glendinning has already agreed a new deal with Ballymena United, while Kevin Amuneke has left the club and has joined Portadown for next season.

Healy welcomed the new arrivals and said he hoped to strengthen the squad further in the coming weeks.

“I know our supporters will give the players a warm welcome and I can assure our supporters that we will be aiming to attract other quality players who can strengthen the squad and help us in our aim of trying to bring further success to the club in the coming seasons,” said Healy, whose side are basking in the glory of a trophy treble after winning the County Antrim Shield, Tennent’s Irish Cup and Gibson Cup.

“Sean Ward has decided to move on at the end of his contract because at this stage of his career he feels he needs more game time.

“I know how much he has enjoyed his time at Linfield and grew to be very fond of the club during his time here.

“I would like to thank all the players for their contribution to Linfield Football Club and I would like to take this opportunity to wish them every success in their future careers.”

Meanwhile, Richard Clarke has confirmed he has left Crusaders and is set to agree a two-year deal with Ballinamallard United.

The 31-year-old midfielder had another two years left on his Crues contract but the travel commitments and desire to secure regular first-team football influenced his decision to seek a new challenge.

Former Glentoran ace Clarke, who lives in Castlederg, is now looking forward to a new chapter in his career with the Mallards.

“As the season was coming to an end, I knew I would make this decision,” said Clarke.

“I want to be closer to home and at my age I want to play more regularly too and Stephen Baxter was very accommodating when I explained my thinking.

“Stephen wanted me to stay on but he also understands my desire to play more football. Castlederg is a two-hour drive away too so it will be easier for me to commit to the Mallards.

“The back-to-back titles with Crusaders were a big highlight but also the European games and winning in Lithuania against FK Ekranas. The toughest part for me will be leaving a great bunch of guys. It’s a tight-knit group and it was a privilege for me to part of the successful teams.”

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