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Gael Bigirimana call-up sparks late Glentoran postponement while Conor McMenamin set for spell on sidelines

Danske Bank Premiership

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Gael Bigirimana

Gael Bigirimana

Ruled out: Conor McMenamin picked up an injury at Warrenpoint recently

Ruled out: Conor McMenamin picked up an injury at Warrenpoint recently

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Gael Bigirimana

Glentoran have been granted permission to call off tonight's Danske Bank Premiership match with Cliftonville at the 11th hour.

Last night, the game at Solitude was dramatically rescheduled for next month at the behest of the Glens, whose request - submitted on the basis of international call-ups - was agreed by the NI Football League.

Goalkeeper Dayle Coleing is expected to once again be between the posts for Gibraltar when they host the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier this evening.

The 24-year-old, capped eight times, missed Glentoran's weekend victory over Crusaders, when understudy Rory Brown kept a clean sheet and the former Institute stopper had been expected to line out against the Reds.

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Dayle Coleing

Dayle Coleing

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Dayle Coleing

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It is understood that midfielder Gael Bigirimana - who did feature against the Crues - has been drafted into the Burundi squad for tonight's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Morocco, leading Glentoran to request the postponement, with the game now being put back until April 20.

Questions have, however, been asked over the late nature of that decision given the Solitude showdown was axed less than 24 hours before Burundi were due to kick-off in Rabat.

Regardless, Glentoran will not now return to action until Saturday's home game with Portadown.

Before last night's postponement, Glens boss Mick McDermott had conceded losing the influential Conor McMenamin was tough to take.

The east Belfast club's big-money January deadline day signing will be missing for the 'foreseeable future' after damaging a toe in a recent game against Warrenpoint Town.

The 27-year-old would not, therefore, have been involved against his former employers even if tonight's fixture had gone ahead.

McMenamin's absence comes as a major blow and McDermott says: "Conor will be out for multiple weeks.

"He damaged a toe at Warrenpoint Town and he's seeing a specialist at the beginning of the week.

"It was an innocuous challenge, he kicked the studs of someone's boot. That's the nature of football.

"It's unfortunate for him and unfortunate for us because he was doing really well, he's been brilliant for us, but that's why we have a big squad."

Although the Glens left it late on Saturday - Jay Donnelly's winner came in the 92nd minute - McDermott was happy with his team's performance.

"It was a big three points, especially with results elsewhere," he added.

"It was a good day at the office, but there are lot of hard days to come.

"As I've always said, what we are doing is not about one season or two seasons, this is about the next 10 years for Glentoran Football Club.

"We don't know where we'll end up this season, but next season we must take an even bigger step."

Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin has, meanwhile, listed physiotherapists Chris McKenna and Stuart Holmes as the unsung heroes of the Reds' season.

With games coming thick and fast since the turn of the year, McLaughlin - whose team travel to Warrenpoint on Saturday - says the duo's hard working efforts have not gone unappreciated by anyone at the club.

"Our two physios, Chris and Stuart, have been fantastic," he said. "They're working right throughout the week, coming in on their days off and seeing the boys individually. They've been phenomenal for us and I can't thank them enough for their work.

"We had a couple of boys leaving the ground on Saturday limping, strapped up and with ice-packs - and that's the competitiveness and intensity of the division.

"Two games a week, especially for part-time players, is tough, but the boys have been fantastic and deserve all the credit."


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