Belfast Telegraph

Focused Mitchell has no interest in table talk amid the festivities

 

By Alex Mills

Glenavon striker Andrew Mitchell admits he doesn't pay much heed to the league table at this time of the season.

Although the Lurgan Blues are chasing down Danske Bank Premiership table toppers Coleraine, the 23-year-old hitman believes it's much too early to enter into the prediction stakes.

A recent defeat by Linfield - only their second of the campaign - was a blip that didn't totally derail Glenavon's title credentials as they have played one game fewer than the runaway Bannsiders.

It means there will be little room for error when Gary Hamilton brings his team to north Belfast today to face a fast-improving Cliftonville side at Solitude.

Barry Gray's boys are merely two points adrift of both Crusaders and Glenavon, so the Reds will approach the game with their own agenda.

"The league table doesn't mean a lot to me at this time of the season," said Mitchell. "Perhaps come the end of March I'll have a look.

"We are happy with where we are at. We lost at Coleraine at the beginning of September and remained unbeaten in the league until a fortnight ago when Linfield nicked a 1-0 win at Mourneview Park.

"It was a close enough game. I think they came not to lose the match, but they got the goal that mattered.

"We bounced back last week to take three big points at Ards. Again, they made it really difficult for us, but we had the quality in the team to get the result."

Mitchell reckons the return of Adam Foley from injury is a big bonus for the Lurgan Blues.

"It's great to have him back again," said Mitchell. "He has the knack of getting vital goals and he got us up and running against Ards, scoring late on.

"He's a quality player and has come back at just the right time. The Cliftonville match is the start of a hectic festive schedule.

"We'll be playing four games in a 10-day period, which is asking a lot of part-time players. That's when every club's squad will be utilised. It's a chance for players to come in and stake a claim for a first-team place."

Although Glenavon racked up a 3-1 win over the Reds earlier in the season, Mitchell insists the Belfast team will be looking to put that right.

"Cliftonville have been playing well and have enjoyed some great results," he said. "They are a difficult team to play against, especially at Solitude. They have won their last six league games, but we are relishing the challenge.

"If results keep going the way they are, it could be one of the tightest title races for years.

"It's usually the Belfast clubs, Crusaders, Linfield and Cliftonville, who are up there leading the way, but it's great that Coleraine and ourselves are giving them something to think about. It's great for the league.

"We don't look too far ahead. Our focus will be on the Cliftonville game. We want three points and then we'll move on to the next game."

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