Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Glenavon star Sykes has the ability to carve out a full-time career, says Clingan


By Graham Luney

Glenavon ace Mark Sykes has the potential to make the breakthrough in the professional game if he can keep shining at club and international level, according to his midfield partner Sammy Clingan.

Former Northern Ireland international Clingan says the Lurgan Blues ace is a thrilling prospect, but there is always room for improvement with a player of his undoubted class.

The 20-year-old has delivered impressive performances for Glenavon this season, suggesting he is ready to take his game to the next level.

Now a part of the Northern Ireland Under-21 set-up, he's basking in the glory of his goal in the 4-2 victory over Estonia at Mourneview Park on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland are now three points clear at the top of European U21 Championship Group 2, although second-placed Spain, who beat Slovakia 4-1, have two games in hand.

Sykes will be brimming with confidence with his contribution on the international stage and if he can keep progressing both at club and international level then he could seal a move across the water, a development which Clingan believes is possible.

"It's a case of him now cementing his place in the Under-21 squad," said Clingan, who joined Glenavon in August. "You like to see players progress like Mark and Paul Smyth. He just needs to keep doing well for Glenavon and who knows what could happen."

Clingan was speaking during a Facebook Live video for Belfast Telegraph Sport with Paul Ferguson and Gareth Hanna. Watch the whole episode right here and keep reading below:

Former Northern Ireland National Team midfielder Sammy Clingan discusses the World Cup qualifying campaign with our NI reporters Paul Ferguson and Gareth Hanna. Send us your questions

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Clingan, who won 39 Northern Ireland caps and whose cross-channel career included spells at Norwich City, Coventry City, Nottingham Forest and Kilmarnock, is now determined to help Sykes mature into an even more dangerous player.

"There are a lot of young boys at Glenavon and when I spoke to (manager) Gary Hamilton he explained they had a young squad rather than a big squad, but they were young players who had a lot of appearances," added Clingan in a Belfast Telegraph Facebook Live interview yesterday.

"Mark was one of those players. Technically he's probably the best at Glenavon and a very good player who played against Ards and scored two goals breaking from midfield. That's his strength, he has real pace and can dribble with the ball.

"There was one chance the keeper saved when he went for power. I told him at half-time just to slide in a chance like that.

"He's a really good player, he could make it across the water but must keep his feet on the ground. It's been great playing with him, I can sit in there while he has the legs to get forward."

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