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Jay Donnelly will not return to Cliftonville squad to play Glenavon, confirms boss

Jay Donnelly will not play for Cliftonville this weekend when the Reds host Glenavon.

Manager Barry Gray has confirmed that the 23-year-old will not feature at Solitude on Saturday afternoon.

Donnelly was convicted of distributing an indecent image of a child last week and was then left out of Cliftonville's squad to play Dungannon. The Reds won that game 5-1, two goals scored by Jay's brother Rory, who appeared emotional after scoring his second of the day.

Donnelly did play against Linfield the day after his court hearing but has not featured since and Gray has now confirmed that he will not return to the squad this weekend.

"The club has made a statement on the matter and as far as I'm aware nothing has changed from that," he told the BBC. "It's a matter for our board to discuss and, from my perspective, we just concentrate on our week-to-week duties."

In a statement released on Saturday, Cliftonville FC said it would not 'shirk its responsibilities' regarding the matter. The statement added that the club had a duty of care to both the victim and the footballer.

The club said: "Cliftonville Football Club is acutely aware that a young woman has suffered because of Jay Donnelly's actions.

"Jay Donnelly is also very emotionally distressed because of his actions and the club feels it has a duty of care to both young people, who are potentially very vulnerable at this moment in time."

There have been widespread calls for the club to act after the player's guilty plea.

The north Belfast club said it was mindful of "knee-jerk reactions" and would take its time and discuss with various groups the best approach to take but had made it clear to the player that it did not condone his actions.

"Please be assured that Cliftonville will take strong action to protect the good name of the club and our supporters, but we are also mindful not to take knee-jerk action that could impact negatively on any injured parties in a potentially vulnerable state of mind," Cliftonville said.

Donnelly is due to be sentenced in January.

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