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Glenavon squad still have complete faith in Gary Hamilton, says midfielder

Gary Hamilton

With the weight of expectation coming down on Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton, it's time for his players to take the strain.

That's according to veteran midfielder Sammy Clingan, who has been in the thick of a run of form that has yielded only two wins from the club's most recent nine outings.

Glenavon have conceded 65 goals in 27 Premiership games this season - over 20 more than any other team outside the bottom three and 19 more than they let in over the duration of any of the last four campaigns.

The fall since the summer has been spectacular. It was only last term that the Luran Blues won the most points of any season in the club's history with 70, finishing behind only Linfield and Ballymena United.

Now they're 13 points off the top six and already with nothing to play for until the summer.

As a result, the 19/20 post-mortem has begun early, with questions the inevitable result of 8-1, 7-0 and 6-0 defeats.

For Clingan though, manager Hamilton should not be the subject of fans' frustration.

"He's a very good manager and everybody here still has faith in him," the former Northern Ireland midfielder said. "I know the buck lies with the manager but as players, we have to take responsibility for results this season. We've let Gary down.

"There have been so many games in which we've given away stupid goals. We've gifted them to the opposition, it's not like we've been getting cut open.

"Even against Glentoran, we were right in the game until there was a mix-up in defence. It's been happening far too often this season - I don't mean in defence but throughout the whole team. The defence rely on the rest of us to do our jobs in front of them and as a collective, we know we've got to be better."

Hamilton has already had to turn a sinking ship round in his young managerial career. When he initially took the Mourneview Park hotseat in December 2011, the club was bottom of the table after the guts of a decade of basement battles, including one relegation.

Fast forward two and a half years and the Irish Cup was back in Lurgan for the first time this millennium.

It will take a similar, if less drastic, reversal of fortunes to yield more silverware in the near future, given the shifting financial sands of the Irish League landscape.

But Clingan is adamant Hamilton is still the man that gives the club its best chance.

"I'm sure he will (turn things round)," the 36-year-old said. "Everybody has so much respect for him and what he has achieved with this club. He has been brilliant for me personally and so many of the players feel the same."

Clingan was out for three months from September to December but he's optimistic he can put his injury problems behind him and is even open to the potential of extending his career for another season despite commuting from Glasgow.

"I'll talk to Gary and see," he said of his future beyond the summer. "I still feel good and I'm still covering a good distance during matches. I just need to keep clear of the injuries now. I had a bit of Achilles problem at the start of the season but hopefully that's the end of it.

"I don't mind the travelling or anything, I come back and stay with my family and it's only 25 minutes on a flight."

Glenavon host Crusaders at Mourneview on Saturday, the third game in a a run of six consecutive fixtures against the top six teams.

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