Skipper Michael Gault returns as Linfield face Glenavon

Linfield skipper Michael Gault

Irish Premiership leaders Linfield will have skipper Michael Gault back in their side for Wednesday's home match against Glenavon.

Midfielder Gault missed the recent wins over Portadown and Glentoran because of a two-game suspension.

Linfield were recently boosted by the return to fitness of former Glenavon defender Mark Haughey.

"It was really frustrating to be out so long with the injury and having to wait to get into the team," said Haughey.

Linfield's Mark Haughey is set to face his old club Glenavon at Windsor Park
Linfield's Mark Haughey is set to face his old club Glenavon at Windsor Park

"I am looking forward to seeing some old team-mates but my focus is on helping Linfield get the three points."

Haughey joined Linfield at the end of last season but had to wait until the 14 December match against Ballinamallard to make his Blues debut.

Linfield, seeking to regain the league crown they have won for six of the last eight seasons, moved six points clear on Boxing Day by beating Glentoran 2-1 in the Belfast derby.

Their two main title rivals Cliftonville and Crusaders fought out a 1-1 draw at Seaview.

Cliftonville will be favourites to pick up three points at home to Coleraine who have lost eight league matches in a row.

"Coleraine are struggling for form and results at the moment - but they will come good again at some point," said Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin.

"They came to Solitude early in the season and deservedly beat us.

"We will have to be careful because they have some good players. We have to be more ruthless in front of goal if we are to get the win."

Crusaders, recently top but now seven points behind Linfield, face a tough trip to Portadown.

Ports manager Ronnie McFall said he had to lift his players after Thursday's 3-2 derby defeat at Glenavon.

"We felt we deserved something from the game, but the reality is we cannot afford to lose any more ground," he said.

Portadown are unbeaten at home since losing 1-0 to the Crues at Shamrock Park on 2 November.

Glentoran, already without injured defender Calum Birney and midfielder David Howland, have Mark Clarke suspended for the trip to Dungannon Swifts.

Clarke was sent-off for violent conduct in the Big Two derby by Linfield.

Irish Premiership - Wednesday, 1 January (15:00 GMT)

Ards v Ballymena United

Ballinamallard United v Warrenpoint Town

Cliftonville v Coleraine

Dungannon Swifts v Glentoran

Linfield v Glenavon

Portadown v Crusaders