Belfast Telegraph

Cooper top of Lyttle's hit list but Glenavon not keen to sell

 

By Laure James

Glenavon star Joel Cooper is believed to be high on Sligo Rovers' most-wanted list.

While his performances for the Lurgan Blues earned heaps of praise in the Irish Premiership, he needed no introduction to Sligo boss Gerard Lyttle.

Cooper had caught the former Cliftonville manager's eye on several occasions, having emerged as a top domestic talent since moving to Mourneview Park in 2015 from Ballyclare Comrades.

Lyttle is believed to have an approved pot of cash to spend and is now prioritising transfer negotiations to bolster his Bit o' Red side, as they fight to avoid a relegation battle in the League of Ireland.

Cooper could be assured of regular, full-time football at the Showgrounds, yet remains under contract at Glenavon and Gary Hamilton has not suggested he's in a rush to sell the 21-year-old.

The Northern Ireland under-21 midfielder is preparing to fly to Estonia for their European qualifier on June 8, and has been training with the seniors under Michael O'Neill.

One year ago, Cooper received a surprise golden ticket after impressing top dog O'Neill, and flew to France to accompany Northern Ireland in training ahead of their opening Euro 2016 match with Poland, and could be the next Irish League star to break into the squad.

Meanwhile, Glenavon skipper Kris Lindsay has joined the club's coaching staff, replacing Niall Donnelly, who is leaving after one season.

Donnelly will remain in the playing squad, but the baton's now with Lindsay to prove himself on the touchline.

And former Portadown and Glenavon striker Shayne Lavery has agreed a one-year professional contract with Everton.

The 18-year-old Northern Ireland youth international joined the Blues in 2015 and has just completed a two-year scholarship with the club.

"The pro contract is something I've always wanted, so it's a dream come true," said Lavery.

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