Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders hoping to seal deal for Braid ace Gary

By Graham Luney

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter has confirmed he has spoken to Ballymena United striker Gary McCutcheon — and the Seaview supremo is also confident Stuart Dallas will agree a new deal with the club.

Dallas has attracted the interest of Portadown and Coleraine, but last season’s double Player of the Year is mulling over a new contract offer.

Meanwhile, Baxter is waiting to see if goal machine McCutcheon calls time on his spell with the Sky Blues.

“We have written a letter to Ballymena United and spoken to Gary in relation to him coming here,” said Baxter.

“He’s a top, top player, someone who I have admired for seven or eight years. It was really a fact finding conversation with Gary.

“We registered our interest in him. Nothing more, nothing less. We told him we’d like to bring him here and if he’s interested we’ll talk further.”

After a quiet start to the season, Dallas has found a new gear in recent weeks and Crues fans are fearing they might lose another top talent in the same way that Martin Donnelly turned down a new deal last season.

“I think Stuart’s interest is through the agent and maybe trying to manoeuvre something for England or Scotland but he assures me the only place he wants to play is here,” added Baxter.

“If a bigger club in England wants to come for him that will take its own course, but he’s a quality player who we want to get back to his best.

“The speculation that came last year affected his game a little, but he loves being here, we love him and we’re hoping he’ll put pen to paper if a bigger move doesn’t come off. We are not going to have that (Martin Donnelly scenario). Stuart has been clear.

“He’s a great young man who is loved by the fans and his team-mates. He has already indicated that he wants to stay with us.”

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