Hamilton is happy to have 'Skinner' on a full-time basis
Danske Bank Premership: Cliftonville v Glenavon (Saturday, Solitude, 3pm)
GLENAVON boss Gary Hamilton hasn’t ruled out the prospect of star striker Eoin Bradley being called up to the Derry GAA squad, despite him being left off the new manager’s 43-man panel. There was no place either in Damian Barton’s squad for Bradley’s elder brother Paddy.
Last season, Hamilton and former Derry manager Brian McIver came to an arrangement that Bradley could resume his inter-county career with his native county after being left out of the 2013 panel.
Initially, McIver said it was impossible for a player to juggle semi-professional soccer and inter-county careers in the same season. But wriggle room was found and Bradley (31) lined out for both Glenavon and Derry at various stages of last season. But it appears Barton, a former All-Ireland winner with Derry in 1993, will not pursue ‘Skinner’ due to his soccer commitments.
While delighted his star striker hasn’t been named in Barton’s initial squad, Hamilton would not be surprised if Derry came knocking again: “Under the previous Derry manager - Brian McIver - Eoin was left out of the squad in his first year in charge,” said Hamilton.
“But last year he came back to get him. We all know when you’re under pressure as a manager things change and circumstances change. You never know what can happen; you can get off to a bad start and things don’t go well and then you’ve got Skinner, who is one of the top players in the county [to call upon].
“So people come back looking players. There is always that potential. I hope it’s not the case because we prefer him not to be playing for Derry over the summer because he’s getting on now. At the same time, if it was to come about again, we’d look at it. At the minute, we’re extremely happy that he’s not involved with Derry, from our own selfish point of view.”
Hamilton, who will be without Bradley for Saturday’s trip to Cliftonville due to a pre-arranged holiday, added: “The new manager has left him out at the minute, but results might change that and there might be demands that Skinner plays for Derry. That’s what happened with Brian last year and the same could happen with Derry’s new manager this year.”
Bradley has been in brilliant goalscoring form for Glenavon this season, notching nine goals: “He’s been excellent,” said Hamilton.
“In my opinion, he’s one of our most consistent performers this season. We all know what type of player Skinner is. Sometimes he can look frustrating but, from a manager’s point of view, he’s effective on the pitch.”
Hamilton also sang the praises of new short-term signing Daniel Kearns, who was released by Carlisle United recently: “Daniel has so much ability, it’s frightening,” said the Lurgan Blues boss.
“Over a period of time, he could become the best player in this league. He’s on a short-term contract with us – eight weeks – and, after that, we’ll talk to him again or he will move on.”
On Saturday afternoon’s opponents Cliftonville, Hamilton said it was inevitable there would be slippage at the Reds after losing star strikers Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley in consecutive seasons.
“When you lose players like Liam Boyce and Joe Gormley, you’ll struggle to win the league. I think the last time a team won the league with a player who scored less than 20 goals was me at Glentoran – I scored 18. But when you’ve got strikers scoring 30 and 40 goals, like Boyce and Gormley did, you have a great chance.
"It’s the same with Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley last year for Crusaders. You need goalscorers to win you a league title.”