Linfield manager David Jeffrey has blasted the rule that has denied Peter Thompson a place in his Paddy Power County Antrim Shield final squad.
The Blues will have to take on Crusaders in the Shield decider at the Oval tomorrow night without their returning hero Thommo as the Northern Ireland international has played for Stockport County in the FA Cup this season.
Shield rules say players are ineligible if they have “played for any team in a cup game in connection with any other association in the same season”.
There was also a question mark hanging over the eligibility of Crusaders’ new signing Mickey Collins for the big game but he has been given the green light to play.
The Shield Committee have decided that the past League of Ireland season does not equate to the current Irish League season so Collins can feature. That is a relief to Crues boss Stephen Baxter who is without the suspended David Rainey, Ryan McCann, Chris Morrow and Aaron Black but his counterpart is less impressed with the Shield rule.
Jeffrey only found out about Thompson’s ineligibility yesterday morning and he now hopes the “antiquated rule” can be scrapped.
“I just think the rule is nonsencial,” he said. “I can understand that the rule may have been invented for a genuine reason some years ago but in the modern game it is just a nonsense. How can managers sign players and go about strengthening their teams with rules like this one disrupting plans?
“Peter played in a different country in a different competition and I cannot understand why that fact should deny him a game in the County Antrim Shield. It not only denies me a striker of his calibre in a big game — it also means fans cannot see him perform.
“The whole thing is very baffling. I understand that Mickey Collins can play in the game and I cannot get my head around these decisions. Mickey was playing in the League of Ireland when our season kicked off.”
The Shield committee’s decision last night opens the door for Collins to turn out for the Crues despite his participation in FAI Cup ties while playing for Dundalk in August.
He featured in two games against Bohemians on August 14 and 18, just days after Crusaders had played their first game in the Shield.