| 3.5°C Belfast

Cliftonville boss Lyttle on red alert as Murray nears Portadown exit


On the move: Darren Murray has asked to leave Portadown

On the move: Darren Murray has asked to leave Portadown

On the move: Darren Murray has asked to leave Portadown

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle has been given fresh hope in his bid to net striker Darren Murray. The Portadown hitman has had a transfer request accepted by the club and after missing out on signing the 24-year-old in the summer, the Reds will make a fresh move to secure their target.

Linfield and Derry City are also expected to fight it out for Murray's services but Lyttle is hoping he can win the race.

"It was well documented that Darren wanted to come to us in the summer but Portadown were determined not to sell and we couldn't get him," said Lyttle.

"Obviously he's had a frustrating season at Portadown and has submitted a second transfer request so we will look at that and there is no question Darren is a top quality Irish League striker.

"If any player becomes available that could strengthen our team we will look at that option but we were delighted to bring Daniel Hughes to the club, he was one of our top targets and is a huge talent we are looking forward to watching."

Hughes is expected to make his Reds debut in Saturday's Irish Cup fifth round battle with Amateur League side Immaculata but David McDaid sustained ligament damage in his shoulder and is expected to be sidelined for a few weeks.

"It's a sore one that needs time to heal and Ryan Catney had a similar injury last season so he could be out for a few weeks but we'll keep assessing it," added Lyttle.

Meanwhile, Ports boss Ronnie McFall admits he has mixed emotions regarding Murray's exit.

"Darren said he wasn't happy and he wanted to leave and although he is a top player and only 24, these things happen in football and he will be allowed to move on," said McFall.

"He has another year of his contract to go so we will expect a transfer fee but as for bringing someone else to the club, we haven't gone down that road yet."

The Ports will face minnows Wakehurst in the Irish Cup on Saturday and their opponents' preparations for that game have been shattered by the departure of manager Paul Muir.

The Championship Two club said in a statement: "First team manager Paul Muir has, with immediate effect, tendered his resignation, which we have reluctantly accepted.

"We want to thank Paul and his coaches for all their hard work and commitment in what is a challenging Championship 2 season. Paul leaves us with every good wish for his future success.

"In the interim, pending further deliberations, team affairs will be administered by a small group of ex-players and club stalwarts."

Glenavon defender Gareth McKeown has joined Carrick Rangers while Kyle Buckley has been released from his Lurgan Blues contract to re-join former side Ards.

Belfast Telegraph