Hamilton: Cooper needs to keep progressing

Ballyclare teenager Joel Cooper has been in good form in the Danske Bank Premiership for Gary Hamilton's Glenavon. Photo: Presseye
Ballyclare teenager Joel Cooper has been in good form in the Danske Bank Premiership for Gary Hamilton's Glenavon. Photo: Presseye

Glenavon player-boss Gary Hamilton says Ballyclare teenager Joel Cooper can become a good player - if he keeps working hard at his game.

The 19-year-old caught the eye in the Lurgan Blues’ 2-2 draw with Carrick Rangers on Saturday and was inches away from finding the net when he rattled the crossbar with a long-range shot during the first half.

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton

The talented winger appears to effortlessly glide past defenders when he’s on the attack, but boss Hamilton (inset) insists there are parts of his play which he still needs to work on.

“Joel was decent but, to me, he needs to be more involved in the game,” said Hamilton after Saturday’s match at Taylor’s Avenue. “When he does get involved, he’s excellent and he runs at people, he’s direct and he commits players.

“He’s still young and he’s got a lot to learn and if we can start getting him more involved in games and he starts knowing where to go to get the ball he can be a good player. He needs to get the head down, get working and keep progressing.”

It’s been a whirlwind few months for the former Ballyclare Comrades player. He was an integral part of Harry McConkey’s junior international side for the Regions’ Cup, before making the switch to Mourneview Park.

In July he spent a week in Scotland for a trial with Scottish League One outfit Stranraer before receiving a call-up to Jim Magilton’s Northern Ireland Under-21 squad.