Swifts boss eyes up McAllister to replace departing Mitchell
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
DUNGANNON Swifts boss Rodney McAree is eyeing up a former striking hero at Stangmore Park to replace the departing Andrew Mitchell at the end of the season.
Portadown frontman Mark McAllister is on Rodney's radar as he looks to fill the big hole that Mitchell will leave behind when he moves across Mid-Ulster to his boyhood club Glenavon at the end of the current campaign.
McAllister made his name in the Irish League with Dungannon Swifts and was part of the Swifts team which made it to the final of the Irish Cup in 2007.
He left the club for Linfield in January 2009, having turned down the chance to join Scottish giants Celtic, for a fee in the region of £35,000.
Rodney won't have to stump up anything like that to bring the Portadown native back to Stangmore Park, with McAllister's contract, like that of Andrew Mitchell's, expiring at the end of the season.
Despite a bright start to his time at Portadown, whom he joined in the summer of 2014, things have gone steadily downhill for the Shamrock Park outfit since.
The club has gone into freefall in the past 18 months, narrowly avoiding relegation last year but, facing a 12 point deduction this year, have made precious little headway into making up that gap this year and are staring down the barrel of playing Championship football next year.
McAllister himself had been frozen out of the first team picture for much of this season, only being brought back in to the fold following the appointment of Niall Currie as manager shortly before Christmas.
And Rodney confirmed to the Courier he is hopeful of stepping in and luring McAllister back to Tyrone.
Rodney said: "I'd love to bring Mark McAllister back to the club and we are certainly trying to achieve that.
“I have spoken with Mark, we have put a letter in to Portadown to speak to him.
“Obviously it's always very difficult for us because of finance, but we'll be in there trying to get him.
“If we could replace Mitchell with the like of Mark McAllister it would certainly give everyone a big boost."
Dungannon had previously enquired about McAllister's availability in the summer, with the player understood to have been keen to make the switch, but the Shamrock Park outfit put the brakes on any such move.
Meanwhile, current main striker Andrew Mitchell, who is the top scorer in the Dankse Bank Premiership this season, is expected back from injury much earlier than previously anticipated.
Mitchell went down in a great deal of pain during their defeat to Linfield last week and it was thought he could be out for up to two months.
But he is expected to return to first team action by the end of the month and should be available for the Irish Cup quarter final clash at home to Warrenpoint Town on Saturday, 4 March at the latest.
Rodney has also confirmed a number of players have signed new contracts.
Extending their stays at Dungannon are captain Ryan Harpur, goalkeeper Andy Coleman, winger Allyy Teggart and left back Jarlath O'Rourke.
All four have committed to the club until the summer of 2019.
A deal has been offered to playmaker Jamie Glackin, whose deal expires at the end of the season, but it is understood he has not yet put pen to paper.
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