Cliftonville's James Knowles ruled out of Irish Cup final

James Knowles


Windsor Park, Belfast
Saturday, 4 May
14:30 BST
Live on BBC2 NI and the BBC Sport website from 14:00 BST, also live on BBC Radio Ulster's Saturday Sportsound

Cliftonville will be without James Knowles in Saturday's Irish Cup final against Glentoran at Windsor Park.

Knowles was initially ruled out of the game because his contract with the Reds had expired.

The club then held talks with Uefa, Fifa and the Irish FA in an attempt to make Knowles eligible for the decider.

However, these efforts finally proved unsuccessful on Friday evening and the Reds have accepted that he will not be available for the showpiece game.

Knowles, a former Northern Ireland Under-21 international, has played a major part in the north Belfast club's success this season and was voted Northern Ireland Football Writers' Player of the Month for November.

On receiving confirmation he has been ruled out of the showpiece decider, Knowles tweeted: "officially can't be involved tomorrow. Gutting, but I'll be there to support the lads #redarmy."

The north Belfast side are hoping to complete a historic domestic treble having already won the Premiership title and the League Cup this season.

"It's been a memorable season and we'll be trying our hardest to extend it by one more game," said Reds manager Tommy Breslin.

"With cup finals, it's all about which team turns up on the day," added the Cliftonville boss, who hopes to lead his side to their first Irish Cup success since 1979.

The Glens have received a timely boost prior to the final with the news that defender Jason Hill has agreed a new contract with the club.

The match will be the last in a Glentoran shirt for long-serving defender Colin Nixon, if he is selected to play a part by manager Eddie Patterson.

"I don't think we have anything to fear - cup finals are wide open affairs and we are confident we can match Cliftonville and better them on the day," said Patterson's assistant Tiernan Lynch.

"Both teams have won one match an we have drawn the other two games we have played this season.

"There has always been a big emphasis on the Irish Cup at Glentoran and there is definitely an extra buzz about the place - it's time we gave the fans something to be proud of again.

"The players have dealt with the issues off the field well and, if anything, it has brought us closer together."

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