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Knowles leaves Cliftonville to boost Linfield cause

By Stuart McKinley

James Knowles has knocked back the offer of a new contract at Cliftonville and signed for Linfield – less than 12 months after turning down the Blues.

The 20-year-old trained with Linfield last summer after being released by Blackburn Rovers, but instead signed for Cliftonville.

Now, after helping the Reds to the Danske Bank Premiership title, he has joined the Blues at the second time of asking.

"We had spoken to James after he came out of contract with Cliftonville. He has been up training with us and he made it clear that he didn't want to go anywhere else, as he wanted to join Linfield," said Jeffrey.

"James' attitude has been excellent and it's been pleasing that he has been with us since the start of pre-season when he made it clear that he didn't want to go anywhere else but here."

Shortly after the deal was announced Knowles said on his Twitter page: "Honoured to have signed for Linfield. Thanks a lot everyone for the kind messages!!"

The Northern Ireland under-21 international had been on trial with Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but no move materialised and he has joined the Blues on a one-year deal in the hope that he can impress cross-channel scouts.

"James still harbours ambitions of returning to play in England and that's why there's been a little delay in terms of him signing," said Jeffrey.

"However, when we made it clear that there would come a point where we couldn't wait any longer, he decided that now was the time to sign and we're absolutely delighted to welcome him to the club."

e GLENTORAN manager Eddie Patterson is considering handing former Northern Ireland striker Andy Smith a return to the Oval.

Smith, who has played in England, Scotland and Belgium – as well as for Portadown and Ballymena United in the Irish League – since leaving the Glens for Preston North End nine years ago, made an appearance in the east-Belfast club's pre-season friendly with Ards on Wednesday night.

Patterson is expected to make a decision after Sunday's friendly away to League of Ireland side Dundalk.

e Uefa have agreed to Cliftonville's request to switch their Champions League matches against Celtic.

The first leg will now take place at Solitude on Wednesday, July 17, with the return at Parkhead on Tuesday July 23, both with a 7.45 kick-off.

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