Having scored 106 goals in his time in East Belfast, Gary Hamilton is sure to receive a warm reception at The Oval tonight as returns as player-manager for Glenavon. Hamilton took over at Glenavon last Christmas and is yet to record victory over The Glens in the Danske Bank Premiership. This season has seen a draw and a victory for Glentoran against Glenavon, the win coming at The Oval in October by 2-1 with Mark Clarke getting the winner that day.
Tonight's team news sees Mark Clarke and Calum Birney return from suspension. There are no new injury worries for The Glens although the recent fixture pile-up may lead to Eddie Patterson rotating. With games coming up in the Danske Bank Premiership, The Irish Cup and The Setanta Cup all in the next 6 days, the importance of maintaining confidence and momentum is crucial.
Victory over Lisburn Distillery on Saturday has seen Glentoran rise to 5th in the table. With Ballinamallard Utd being defeated and Coleraine being held at home by Donegal Celtic, Glentoran have placed ourselves in pole position to get 4th place and a potential route into Europe. Tonight is one of our games in hand over our rivals and giving us the opportunity to rise ahead of Coleraine into 4th. It could also see us close the gap to just 8 points on Linfield with another game in hand.
For Glenavon, Gary Hamilton has been vocal in criticism for his side in the last number of weeks following a poor run of form. These words seemed to spark Glenavon into gear and they recorded an impressive 7-0 victory over Ballymena Utd on Saturday. The result has seen them jump 10 points clear of the relegation playoff spot held by Donegal Celtic. Hamilton will be keen for his side to build on Saturday's success and record another 3 points tonight.
Kick-off for tonight's game is at 7.45p.m.