Gary Hamilton faces tough start as Glenavon manager

New Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton faces the toughest possible start to his reign as the Lurgan Blues travel to face leaders Linfield at Windsor Park.

"They're top of the league because they are the best team and have been for the past number of years," said Hamilton.

"Nobody expects us to get anything from the game so the players should just go and express themselves and play.

"There is no pressure on us so if we go with that mindset then maybe we can get something and build up our confidence."

"As a player or a manager you want to play in the big matches in front of the big crowds and there is no better place to showpiece yourself than at Windsor Park.

"The team is unbeaten in their last four games so there is no reason why we can't go there and get a result," added the new Mourneview boss.

Linfield lie four points ahead of second-placed Cliftonville, who welcome Coleraine back to Solitude just four days after the IRN-BRU League Cup quarter-final between the sides.

New Dungannon Swifts manager Rodney McAree begins his tenure with an away trip to Crusaders.

Swifts have lost the services of midfielder Ryan McCluskey, who has left the club.

Terry Fitzpatrick serves a one-match suspension while the Crues have Colin Coates available again after he was forced to sit out the League Cup semi-final win over Ballymena.

Michael Hughes will be in temporary charge of Carrick Rangers for their away game at Lisburn Distillery.

Carling Premiership fixtures - Saturday 17 December

Ballymena United OFF Glentoran

Cliftonville v Coleraine

Crusaders v Dungannon Swifts

Linfield v Glenavon

Lisburn Distillery v Carrick Rangers