Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Tuffey can't wait to see Sammy Clingan weave magic at Glenavon

By Graham Luney

Jonny Tuffey has backed his old pal Sammy Clingan to produce fireworks for Glenavon. The former Northern Ireland midfielder has joined the Lurgan Blues after featuring for them in pre-season, and it's an opportunity for the Belfast man to get his career going again.

Clingan was released by Linfield after injury prevented him from making a significant impact at Windsor Park, but he still showed glimpses of his undoubted talent and Glenavon will hope he stays out of the treatment room.

The former Norwich City, Coventry City, Nottingham Forest and Kilmarnock ace is hoping to hit the ground running at Mourneview Park, and his former international team-mate Tuffey is backing the 33-year-old to do just that.

"Sammy is a massive signing," said the stopper ahead of the Lurgan Blues' opener at Warrenpoint Town. "It's a great bit of business by Gary (Hamilton). We all know what Sammy will bring on the pitch and, more importantly, what he'll offer off it this season in the changing room. We are a young squad and his experience is vital alongside a few other experienced players.

"He's a naturally fit lad. He has come in and looked really sharp. Fingers crossed, his knee holds up for him. There is plenty left in Sammy's tank and hopefully we can get the best of him."

Glenavon have also drafted in Andy Mitchell from Dungannon Swifts to keep the goals flowing, and the club's No.1 target must be a return to the European stage.

"That's definitely an aim," added Tuffey. "We'd like to stay within touchline distance of Linfield, Crusaders, Cliftonville, Coleraine and Ballymena United. You want to be finishing in those European places.

"People are saying about us being a young squad but the boys have played a lot of games. They will come of age and use that experience.

"Linfield have added good signings and are looking strong but a few teams have strengthened and they will try to knock the Blues off the perch. It's up to the rest of us to close that gap."

• BALLINAMALLARD United have announced the return of defender Matty Smyth following spells at Stevenage, Dundee and Arbroath.


Manager: Gary Hamilton

Captain: Jonny Tuffey

Last season: Sixth

Prediction: Seventh

Verdict: The Lurgan Blues have lost quite a bit of experience over the summer, leaving them with a youthful squad and that can lead to inconsistency. A failure to qualify for Europe hurt their spending plans too.

INS: Andy Mitchell, Marc Griffen, Sammy Clingan.

OUTS: Luke Fisher, James Gray, Renato, David Elebert, Andy Kilmartin, Kyle Neill, Greg Moorhouse, James Gray, Ciaran Martyn, Guy Bates.

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