Simpy's star is shining: Leeman
Published 01/09/2007 | 10:37
Glentoran skipper Paul Leeman has hailed the resurgence of form of young defender Philip Simpson.
The 21-year-old has made an impressive start to this year's campaign and seems to have nailed down a place in the starting XI, for the time being at least.
Simpson first broke into the Glens' team a few seasons ago and though a little raw showed enough for Roy Coyle to offer him one of the club's first full-time contracts.
Last year though a mixture of poor form and illness meant that the Northern Ireland schoolboy international captain figured seldomly in the Glentoran line-up.
Now it looks as though he has finally found his feet alongside Leeman in the heart of the Glentoran defence.
However, with Sean Ward back in the frame after representing the Irish Universities at the World Student Games, and others patiently waiting to slot into the defence, Leeman has warned Simpson that he will have to stay on top form.
And the captain is also heeding his own advice.
"Simpy has done really well this season and deserves to be in the team at the minute for the way he has been playing," said Leeman.
"No one worked harder than him in pre-season and it has paid off.
"What he has to do is keep it up though. It can be easy for young players to get carried away but the best advice I can give him is that you have to keep working hard.
"You can't afford to get complacent at a club like Glentoran and while Simpy has all the attributes of a quality player, he has to keep up that form.
"There are players coming in especially with Sean Ward back now - who can take your place so it is important that you stay focused.
"That goes for me too - we have a lot of competition for places at the minute in every position and I know as much as anyone that I have to be on form or else I am out."
The Glens take on Lisburn Distillery at the Oval today knowing that a draw would all but secure their place in the quarter-finals of the CIS Insurance Cup.
Leeman knows, however, that success breeds more success and with the league due to start in three weeks time, the Glens have to keep up the momentum.
"We have been winning games but we haven't been at our best," he added. "I think there is still more to come from us but we have to pick it up quickly.
"There have been stages in games where we have been doing ok but we seem to be letting teams back into the game which is something that could cost us some time.
"It hasn't been a bad start so far because we have won our three games but I know we can play better and I am sure we will hit that form soon."