Irish Premiership: Leaders Crusaders face in-form Glenavon

Glenavon's Rhys Marshall and Crusaders' Jordan Forsythe battle during the Premiership game in October
Glenavon's Rhys Marshall is banned for the game against Crusaders while Jordan Forsythe is likely to be missing for the Premiership leaders

Leaders Crusaders will aim to stay in firm control of the Irish Premiership title race by beating in-form Glenavon in Friday night's round of games.

The Crues lead second-placed Linfield by six points and also have a game in hand on the Blues.

Craig McClean is available again for the Crues after a ban but Jordan Forsythe could again be ruled out.

Glenavon, who have only lost once in 12 games, will be without suspended Rhys Marshall and Simon Kelly.

Both are serving one-match bans while manager Gary Hamilton is also considering giving an evening off to Ciaran Martyn and Kris Lindsay.

Martyn has only recently returned to action after a period out because of injury and Hamilton is wary about risking the player on the synthetic Seaview surface.

Lindsay may also be excused for similar reasons as he has been bothered by a knee injury in recent weeks.

On the plus side, Conor Dillon is expected to be available for Glenavon despite suffering from a chest infection earlier this week while Mark Sykes appears to have recovered from a dead leg sustained in the impressive 4-1 Irish Cup win over Glentoran last weekend.

After their 7-0 cup demolition of Armagh City last week, Linfield will aim to account for a Portadown side that have lost their last six Premiership games.

However, the Ports did beat Coleraine in the Irish Cup last weekend and they already have a Premiership victory over the Blues at Shamrock Park this season.

Coleraine will hope to get back to winning ways after four successive defeats when they travel to face Ballymena United in a derby encounter.

The Braidmen will be without suspended pair Nathan Hanley and Johnny Taylor.

Friday's other game sees bottom club Warrenpoint Town aiming for a fourth successive Premiership win when they host fellow strugglers Ballinamallard United.

In all, Warrenpoint are unbeaten in their last six Premiership games after earning draws against Glenavon, Carrick Rangers and Cliftonville prior to their wins over Coleraine, Portadown and Glenavon.

Ballinamallard are only four points ahead of Warrenpoint in ninth place altough Whitey Anderson's side did beat Ballymena in their last Premiership game on 30 January.

Danske Bank Premiership

Friday 12 February - 19:45 GMT kick-off unless stated

Ballymena Utd v Coleraine

Crusaders v Glenavon

Portadown v Linfield

Warrenpoint Town v Ballinamallard United - 20:00 GMT

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