McAree reckons Mitchell has what it takes to shine across the water
Rodney McAree believes that Andrew Mitchell's talents are deserving of a bigger stage than the Danske Bank Premiership.
The Dungannon striker took his tally for the season to 12 with a brace against out-of-sorts Ballymena United as his burgeoning reputation continues to grow.
Swifts boss McAree concedes it will be difficult to keep the 22-year-old at Stangmore Park beyond the end of his contract next summer but feels the frontman could be destined for greater things.
"People talk about Andrew leaving Dungannon Swifts to go to another Irish League club -- I think the age he is, the mobility he has and the goalscoring ability he has, I think there's an opportunity for him to maybe get across the water," said McAree, who spent spells at clubs including Liverpool and Fulham.
"Having played across there myself and having seen the levels, I feel he is every bit as good as what I played with at certain clubs.
"He has a lot of pace and a lot of strength. He has a great left foot and an eye for goal and he's an honest big lad and when you get him onside, you certainly get the best out of him.
"Coming to Dungannon Swifts, in my opinion, was the best move for Andrew when he left Glenavon and I think it has paid off for him.
"Over the course of the first few months he maybe found it difficult to find his feet but after three or four months, we started reaping the rewards," added McAree.
As well as Mitchell's double, there was a rare goal from left-back Jarlath O'Rourke - who arrived like a steam train on the overlap to convert Ryan Harpur's pass - while a Kyle Owens own goal compounded Ballymena's misery.
It had all started brightly for the Sky Blues after Leroy Millar's long-range thunderbolt but it was a chastening afternoon for United boss David Jeffrey, who admits that his personnel is being tested to the limit by a number of key absentees through injury.
"The squad is being stretched and unfortunately we came up short," said Jeffrey. "Over the past few weeks, the side wasn't changing, you had the same group of people who were playing tremendously well and they were being pushed by people who wanted to get into the team.
"Suddenly over the course of a couple of weeks that has gone crash, bang, wallop.
"Hopefully we can put this one in the bin quickly. We haven't had too many disappointments this season but when we have had them, the players have responded very well," added Jeffrey.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Ervin, Owens, Loughran, Wallace (Mackie, 80 mins), T Kane, Jenkins (E Kane, 80 mins), Faulkner, Millar, Henderson (Shevlin, 71 mins), Friel. Unused subs: McCauley, McVey.
Dungannon: Addis, Burns, Hegarty, Armstrong, O'Rourke, Lowe (McDonald, 86 mins), Harpur, Wilson (Clucas, 77 mins), Glackin, McElroy (Fitzpatrick, 81 mins), Mitchell. Unused subs: Coleman, Hazley.
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Belfast)
Man of the match: Andrew Mitchell
Match rating: 7/10