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Glentoran's Nacho Novo craves chance to rock Linfield


Up and running: Nacho Novo wants to be a Christmas hero in east Belfast by scoring the winner against Linfield

Up and running: Nacho Novo wants to be a Christmas hero in east Belfast by scoring the winner against Linfield

Up and running: Nacho Novo wants to be a Christmas hero in east Belfast by scoring the winner against Linfield

Nacho Novo's arrival at Glentoran in July was one of the biggest signings in Irish League history.

But behind all the hype and noise lay the question of just how the 37-year-old would perform on the domestic stage.

Supporters dug deep to make the transfer happen and the Spaniard was keen to hit the ground running but you will struggle to find any Glenmen singing 'Novo's on fire'.

There have been jokes about his weight and the man who scored 72 goals 253 appearances for Rangers has been unable to secure a regular place in the side.

Novo, however, believes he can still sparkle for Glentoran and he's worked hard to bolster his fitness levels. Don't write him off and a goal in today's Boxing Day clash against Linfield at Windsor Park could give him a new lease of life. The criticism will have hurt the veteran goal-getter but if he can help Glentoran stun Linfield today then Novo will dream of a prosperous new year in the famous red, green and black.

"I look forward to every single game I am fit to play in and this is one of the biggest," said Novo, whose last club was Carolina Railhawks in the North American Soccer League.

"I haven't been playing much for the team but you just work hard and hope the manager picks you.

"This is a massive game for the club and I think it's been 44 years since Glentoran last beat Linfield on Boxing Day. It would be nice to be part of a team that breaks that record. No game is easy and this one is particularly tough but we will go into it confident we can get a good result.

"I want to help the team in any way I can. As long as we can get the victory that's all that matters. Hopefully I can take a chance if it comes my way and help the team celebrate a big win.

"As a team we are determined to perform and hopefully reward our supporters who will be there in big numbers. There will be a great atmosphere at a great stadium and it should be very loud. All that matters to us is the three points."

Novo, who spent six successful years with the Gers, admits that his time at Glentoran to date hasn't lived up to expectations.

"In my time at the club so far I've had a few good and bad moments," he added.

"After I signed I had to gain match fitness and become familiar with the style of play. I wasn't fit and not enjoying it as much but I've been working hard to get the weight off and get my fitness levels up.

"I've also had an injury to deal with and that was a setback. I needed to do some rehabilitation work at Rangers and I feel stronger now.

"It's up the manager who he selects in the team and players can't be rushed back after suffering an injury. Every player wants to play though and I'm ready."

There will inevitably be speculation regarding Novo's future at the Glens and the rumours may escalate when the transfer window opens but the much travelled frontman still believes he has a lot more to offer.

"I don't know what my future holds," he adds.

"I just want to play well. I've a lot more to offer Glentoran but the manager picks the team. There will be talk of clubs showing an interest in me but I'm not paying attention to that. Right now I simply want to play and score goals for Glentoran."

Novo spent his Friday morning handing out gifts to kids at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Friday.

"I really enjoyed the hospital visit," he added.

"It's all about the kids though. If I can make them smile in any way then I'm happy. They are going through a difficult time and it's tougher at this time of year. Sometimes we worry about things when really we have nothing to worry about."

Belfast Telegraph