Gary Hamilton: Glenavon boss only wants players with a chance of making first team

Gary Hamilton
Hamilton began his playing career at Blackburn Rovers

Glenavon player-manager Gary Hamilton has said he is not interested in signing new players just to bolster the size of his squad.

Striker Matthew Ferguson, who arrived from H&W Welders, has been the Lurgan Blues' sole capture this summer.

Hamilton revealed he is working hard on bringing new faces in, but insisted he will only sign players who are capable of challenging for a first-team place.

"We're always on the lookout for new players," Hamilton said.

"I've been on the phone every day trying to bring players in since the Glentoran playoff defeat at the end of last season.

"But one thing I won't do is bring a player in just to be a squad player. I won't be signing players just for the sake of it or just to have a bigger squad.

"I only want people who I think can genuinely challenge to start every week. If they aren't better than what I have got - or I think they can be better than what I have got - then I don't want them.

"We're talking to a number of players but obviously we can't always compete financially. Matthew Ferguson is the only one we have got over the line so far but we are always looking."

Focus on youth continues

Mark Sykes moved to Oxford United from Glenavon in January
Mark Sykes moved to Oxford United from Glenavon in January

As well as operating within the club's financial budget, Hamilton also explained that his transfer policy is aimed at ensuring the development of his young players is not stifled.

The club has benefitted greatly in recent seasons from a successful youth system which has produced a host of first-team regulars, including Bobby Burns and Mark Sykes who went on to secure moves to Hearts and Oxford United respectively.

"We have brought through a lot of youngsters down the years and for me to bring in a squad player who would take a young player's place in the squad would be wrong," continued Hamilton, whose side this week confirmed they will play in this season's Scottish Challenge Cup.

"I feel we have another two or three coming through at the minute who maybe won't be pushing for a regular place this season, but certainly will be in the next couple of seasons.

"The likes of Oisin Barr, Ross Hunter and Leighton Jameson have the potential and we are hoping that they can stay focused and maybe become the next Bobby Burns or Mark Sykes.

"It is difficult to keep producing these young players, but it is something that we put a lot of effort into because, quite frankly, if we didn't then the club wouldn't be anywhere near where it is now."

Hamilton to carry on playing

Gary Hamilton
Hamilton scored after coming off the bench against Glentoran at the Oval in February

Glenavon lost out on a place in Europe this season after defeat by Glentoran in the Europa League play-off semi-final in May.

Now 38, Hamilton took over as player-manager at Mourneview Park in 2011 and he intends to remain on the playing staff for at least another season.

The former Glentoran and Portadown forward proved towards the end of last season that he can still have an impact on games from the bench, but said he will only play himself when required.

"I take every season as it comes because I'd much rather be on the sidelines watching other people playing. My body can't take it for much longer," Hamilton added.

"However, given the circumstances of the club and the finances we can't afford to carry a massive squad. There were times last season when we had 15-year-olds on the bench and at that stage there was no other option but to include myself.

"As always I will sign on again this year just to have myself as another option in case we do get an injury crisis. It's one benefit of being player-manager in the sense that it means we can have another player that doesn't have to come out of my budget."

Glenavon have been in pre-season training for two weeks now and will play Hearts in a friendly at Mourneview Park on Saturday.