Linfield's Ivan Sproule ruled out with knee injury

Ivan Sproule
Linfield winger Ivan Sproule is injured

Winger Ivan Sproule has been ruled out of Linfield's Premiership game with Portadown at Shamrock Park on Saturday after suffering a knee injury.

Sproule sustained the problem in Tuesday's County Antrim Shield decider against Crusaders, but swelling means the extent of the injury is not known.

Midfielder Jamie Mulgrew is doubtful with a slight bout of tonsilitis.

Michael Gault and Philip Lowry are carrying bumps and bruises but are expected to be available.

The Ports have Peter McMahon serving the first game of a two-match suspension, while manager Ronnie McFall has injury worries over central defensive pair Emmett Friars (knee) and Gary Breen (hamstring).

Another defender, Keith O'Hara, is suffering from a torn thigh muscle and is rated doubtful.

The Blues currently enjoy a two-point lead at the top of the table over Cliftonville, whose manager Tommy Breslin was named as the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Manager of the Month for February this week.

Breslin has questioned the validity of the Premiership split which happens after teams have played 33 matches, with the sides in each half then playing each other.

"I am not a lover of it. In my humble view it's something that should be looked at," said Breslin.

"Playing all teams four times a season is better than having five games at the end of the season against the teams around you, especially when it is a lottery whether you are home and away.

"The argument put out in favour of it is that there are bigger gates, but are there?"

Breslin welcomes back strike duo Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley after suspension, while Marc Smyth also returns for the visit of Ballinamallard following a ban.

Glenavon continue their quest for a top-six place when they face Dungannon Swifts at Mourneview Park.

The Swifts have Matt Hazley beginning a two-game ban, while Jamie Douglas and Michael McKerr are long-term injury absentees.

Warrenpoint Town striker Daniel Hughes is unavailable for his side's clash with fellow basement strugglers Ards at Stangmore Park.

Ards manager Niall Currie has James Knowles, Neil Dougan and Sean Cleary back in the squad after injuries, while Craig McMillan is also back in the mix after suspension.

Adam Rodgers must sit out the game because of a ban.

Danske Bank Premiership - Saturday 8 March - 15:00 GMT kick-offs

Cliftonville v Ballinamallard

Glenavon v Dungannon

Portadown v Linfield

Warrenpoint v Ards