Glenavon will put faith in emerging stars but three big budget clubs should be clear of the rest: Gary Hamilton
Manager Gary Hamilton is primed to unleash another posse of his Glenavon fledglings when his team embarks on the new Danske Bank Premiership season against Glentoran at Mourneview Park tonight.
With the transfer market closing at the end of the month, the former Northern Ireland international has resisted the temptation to flash the cash.
Hamilton has the knack of producing some of the country's best young players - Bobby Burns and Mark Sykes, two former prodigies, are now plying their trade in full-time football.
He refuses to get caught up in the hype of over-inflated prices and bulging budgets, preferring to nurture his talent from within.
"It's a tough business in getting the quality of players we are after which fits into our budget," said Hamilton. "I'm not going to change my ways - unless they fit into our budget, I'll not be bringing anyone in.
"There is no point in adding to the squad for the sake of it. We've built a successful youth academy and have great kids emerging like Oisin Barr, Paddy Burns, Jack O'Mahony and Ross Hunter. There is no point in blocking their pathway by signing basic squad players.
"I'm happy with what we have got. Yes, I would have liked to have added another face or two, but we'll work with what we have got. My only signing has been Matthew Ferguson (son of Linfield legend Glenn).
"It's been a tough window. In January, we brought in Eoin Wearen, Robert Garrett and Seamus Sharkey and we have Andrew Doyle and Sammy Clingan back from injury this season.
"They will be like two new signings for us. Doyler never kicked a ball all year while Sammy missed a large chunk of the season.
"Although I'm happy with the squad, we'll continue to look for fresh faces until the transfer window closes."
Hamilton believes O'Mahony and Burns will have gained experience from respective loans at H&W Welders and Knockbreda.
"Jack has been flying in pre-season," said Hamilton. "We know it's a different proposition doing it in the Irish League, but from what I've seen so far he's more than capable of making an impact. Paddy Burns is the same, he has improved drastically."
Hamilton reckons that big-spending Linfield and Crusaders will be difficult to stop - along with Larne, who have benefited enormously from the backing of local businessman Kenny Bruce.
"The disappointing thing was that we achieved our highest ever points total (70) last season, but still didn't manage to make it into Europe," he said.
"It was a big blow to the club. But I couldn't fault the players because they performed over the course of the season and got us into the play-off position.
"I've always said the Europa League play-off was a lottery because any team can beat another on any given day. I never agreed with the system and never will.
"This will be the toughest year for every club. With the budgets of Linfield, Crusaders and Larne, no other team should get near them in terms of league position.
"If those three don't take up the top three positions, there is something wrong. It's going to be very difficult for the rest of us to compete. But that's football."
Hamilton is relishing the prospect of facing the Glens tonight.
He added: "It's always a big game against the Glens. There is a bit more optimism at The Oval with the new financial takeover.
"We can match any team on our day, so if we can produce our best we have as good a chance of winning as Glentoran have."