Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Mark Sykes talks transfer speculation as midfield star helps Glenavon prove doubters wrong

By Gareth Hanna

When clubs like Celtic and Leicester are said to be keeping tabs on a player's progress, he could be forgiven for casting a sideward glance.

But Glenavon's Mark Sykes says he hasn't been tempted to tinker with his blinkers despite speculation surrounding his future after a string of impressive performances. Blackburn and Bolton have also been linked with the midfielder.

"I prefer not to know," the 20-year-old said of the transfer talk building up ahead of the January window. "I play my own game, see how I get on. If bids come in, it's all good but at the minute I know nothing. Gary (Hamilton - manager), the board and the club know most of it. I'll play my game and see how we get on."

Sykes has been a key man in helping Glenavon to cause a few surprises so far this season. In the summer, the Lurgan Blues had been tipped to drop down the table having lost influential players like Joel Cooper, Eoin Bradley and Kevin Braniff in previous months. But now sitting third in the table and only nine points off the top with two games in hand, they've gone from strength to strength.

"A lot of people underestimated us at the start of the season, saying the squad wasn't big enough and that we might not achieve what we should," said Sykes. "We have proved a lot of people wrong so far this season. Obviously there is a long way to go but we'll see what we can do. There is a lot of young talent at the club."

Sykes was speaking at the Irish Cup fifth round draw, where Glenavon were handed a trip to Carrick Rangers' Belfast Loughshore Arena on January 6, a venue that Sykes does not relish.

"It's very tough," he reflected. "We've been down there this year already and it wasn't as easy as the result (a 2-0 win) made it seem. The pitch isn't great and a lot of people know that. It would have been far handier to play them at home but it is what it is and we'll see how we get on."

The Blues will also be quick to remember last season's League Cup semi-final, when Carrick dashed their hopes by earning an unexpected 1-0 win at Mourneview Park.

"Last year's the past now and we'll look to make things right," said Sykes. "We're usually very good in the Irish Cup and hopefully that continues."

Glenavon won the tournament in both 2014 and 2016 but whether or not Sykes will be around long enough to help add another Cup title remains to be seen.

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