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Glendinning hoping to be a number one hit at Windsor

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Safe hands: Ross Glendinning produced a stunning display against Glenavon on his recall

Safe hands: Ross Glendinning produced a stunning display against Glenavon on his recall

Safe hands: Ross Glendinning produced a stunning display against Glenavon on his recall

Ross Glendinning was Linfield's number one last Saturday but he knows the Blues face a titanic battle to be the Danske Bank Premiership's number one hit come May.

The 21-year-old was given the nod at Mourneview Park by boss Warren Feeney who opted to give Jonny Tuffey a break from the spotlight.

And the shot-stopper responded with a stunning display against Glenavon, helping his side secure a much needed 2-1 victory.

Linfield went into the Lurgan battle on the back of three defeats - two to Crusaders and one to Cliftonville - so defeat wasn't an option for the visitors but Glendinning and co. thrived under the pressure.

And it's champions Cliftonville who must be shot down if Feeney is to lift the Gibson Cup in his debut season as a manager.

"It's important we stay in touch at the top but my view is that whoever finishes above Cliftonville will win the league," said Glendinning.

"I've watched a lot of the teams and the Reds are the benchmark. They are the team to beat. Last season we struggled to beat Cliftonville and it killed off our title hopes. Meanwhile, every team still raises their game against us and we have to deal with that."

Patience has been a virtue for Glendinning who has waited a long time to shine between the sticks.

He added: "I'm still young and learning so it was simply a case of waiting for the time to come and then you hope you can grab the chance.

"There is always pressure on players to perform from one through to 11 but as a young goalkeeper at a big club I'm going to feel it too.

"Sometimes you don't get second chances but I'm 21- years-old and still developing.

"The Glenavon game was always going to be a big test for me and the team because they are a strong side.

"But from front to back I thought we performed very well and the boys put in a great shift. We showed a bit of grit, fight and determination which hasn't always been there and that's important.

"It was three crucial points because we didn't want to slip further behind the leaders.

"Portadown and Glenavon have come on leaps and bounds this season and we need to keep pace with them and the Reds to stay in the title race.

"Teams have come to Windsor and played well and there's no doubt the extra competitive edge is attracting more interest to the Irish League.

"If we can win our next two games, which are at home, then it would leave us in a good place near the top of the table."

Feeney has given former Partick Thistle stopper Tuffey an opportunity to recharge his batteries and it appears that Glendinning has done enough to keep hold of the jersey against Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park this afternoon.

"Jonny is a great lad and he has the right attitude to the game, acting as a true professional should act," added Glendinning, whose father Mark is a Glentoran legend while his brother Reece has been in the Linfield treatment room.

"Jonny has played for Northern Ireland and I would love to emulate his achievements.

"When I secured a place in the Linfield starting line-up last Saturday he was the first person to text me and wish me luck which is the mark of the man.

"We are familiar with the life of a goalkeeper and it's a case of one week you're a hero and the next a villain.

"You can't afford to get too carried away with great form and too despondent when things go wrong.

"I'll just try and stay on one level and not get too high or too down.

"I'll do the best I can in the knowledge there are three great keepers at Linfield because we have Gareth Deane as well as Jonny. They are two great lads and the training is great fun. We all know you have to perform week in, week out if you want to keep hold of that number one jersey."

Feeney is on a steep learning curve at Windsor Park but Glendinning's early impressions of the former Northern Ireland striker are very positive.

He added: "I think Warren is a brilliant character, very funny. I think he has brought a lot of colour to the league and to Linfield. I think supporters enjoy his style and I'm sure he gives opposition fans something to talk about as well.

"He's a joy to be around, training has been great and along with Andy Todd and Alfie Wylie they have the boys well drilled. I've really enjoyed working with them.

"The reality is that Linfield have lost a lot of experienced players like Michael Gault and Mark McAllister but even with all the changes at the club I feel we are good enough to stay near the top and perhaps challenge for the title.

Belfast Telegraph