CLIFTONVILLE boss Paddy McLaughlin believes that Glenavon will bring their own challenges and something different as the sides meet on Saturday (3pm).

The Reds make the trip to Mourneview Park hoping to stay on the tails on league-leaders Glentoran and continue their winning streak of six-games in all competitions.

That winning run went to six with a comfortable 3-0 win over Harland and Wolff Welders at Blanchflower Park on Tuesday evening, which saw Joe Gormley return to the scoring charts.

McLaughlin is well aware of the threat that the Lurgan Blues possess ahead of the weekend but feels his side a beginning to build towards their top form.

“All Irish league games are tough and they all bring their own challenges and something different,” he said.

“Glenavon on their day are definitely as good as anybody, they proved that a few weeks ago away to Coleraine.

“They went up there and run riot and they were excellent going forward. We know it is going to be tough.

“It will be tough but we’re building towards our top form and we’re building a bit of momentum.

“If we can keep that going, going into Saturday’s game then we’ve every chance of getting the win.”

The Derry native was delighted to see Ronan Hale and Joe Gormley find the net in their midweek Cup win and was full of praise for the club’s top talisman, Gormley, who netted his 259th goal in the 400 appearances after coming off the bench.

“Those boys are top strikers in the division and top strikers always score goals,” McLaughlin acknowledged.

“Joe’s was an incredible achievement. He made his 400th appearance and 259 goals for the club - what an achievement. That is why he is a Cliftonville legend and an Irish League legend.

“He came on and did the business and put the game to bed for us.

“We were creating a load of chances and we were failing to take any of them and that’s why Joe came on and once you give him a sniff of goal – nine times out of ten – he’ll stick it in the net, and he did it tonight.

“It’s brilliant for him and delighted to see it, his confidence should be high now because he is a top player and sets us up well for going to Glenavon.”

As well as the win, McLaughlin was pleased his defence made it back-to-back clean sheets and feels a lot of that is down to securing the signing on left-back Aaron Traynor on deadline day- allowing Luke Turner to return to his centre-back slot in the side. 

“We done really well last year and a lot of it was because of our defence,” McLaughlin agreed.

“They were excellent, strong and consistent - that’s two in the last two games.
It might have been outside of the Premiership but you have to start somewhere. Hopefully now that will breed confidence within our backline and defensive unit and hopefully, we can go on and make it three on Saturday.

“It will be tough on Saturday against Glenavon, but it’s good and you have to start somewhere in keeping clean sheets and its two in a row now we have. Let’s hope we can build on that going forward.

“Big Luke can play anywhere. He’s that good a talent and that great an athlete that he can play in a range of positions for us.

“At left-back, centre-half or the left of a back-three, he can do it at a high standard in all three.

“Having a natural left-back is a boost for us and Aaron (Traynor) is a quality player. He’s been one of the best left backs in the division for many years.

“He’s probably disappointed that he picked up an injury last year that he just couldn’t seem to shake off.

“Now that he is injury free and edging towards his full fitness, we’re delighted to have him on board, and he is going to be a serious player for us.”

McLaughlin revealed that Rory Hale is still a doubt for the weekend after requiring stiches in an ankle injury picked up against Portadown in their last league outing and admits he is reluctant for the wound to open up.

“The stiches are heeling well but he might just need another couple of days,” McLaughlin revealed.

“We could take the chance of putting him in but you also run the chance of opening the wound up again.

“It’s something we’ll keep an eye on in the next few days. He’s in good hands with the doc and Stuart the physio.

“They’re looking after him at the minute and they will advise us on what to do with him going into Saturday’s game.

“If the wound is heeled any better by Saturday, then there is every chance he could play.

“If there is a risk of it reopening, then we can’t run the risk of losing him for another three weeks.

“We’ll take the advice off the doc and physio and see what happens come Saturday.”