Jan 13 2012 By Curtiss Wilson
ANNAN were last night on the verge of signing midfielder Ben McKenna from Carlisle United on loan until the end of the season.
Annan chairman Henry McClelland confirmed a deal had been agreed to bring the promising youngster to Galabank, stating it was only a matter of completing paperwork to finalise the move.
McClelland added: "He’s an attacking player who can play on either side of the midfield or as a front man.
"We have agreed a loan deal with Carlisle United and should have the player signed by the weekend."
Eighteen year old McKenna, who has represented Northern Ireland at both U17 and U18 level, was expected to train with his new teammates last night.
However, he will have to wait for international clearance before he can pull on the black and gold shirt and McClelland fears that may rule out any chance of him appearing this weekend.
Meanwhile, gaffer Harry Cairney had an injury headache to contend with ahead of his side’s important clash with title rivals Alloa Athletic tomorrow.
Cairney said: "Sean O’Connor missed training on Tuesday night to receive treatment on his recurring knee problem and the synthetic surface at Alloa is one we try to use Sean sparingly on. Bryan Gilfillan also sat out training and is a fitness doubt.
"On top of that, a recurring groin injury means John MacBeth will be unavailable for the next couple of weeks and Graeme Bell is still working his way back to full fitness."
Annan travel to Recreation Park knowing that a victory will lift them above their opponents in the league table, whilst defeat would create a gap between the sides and leave the Galabank outfit looking over their shoulder at the chasing pack.
The game will be played on an artificial pitch similar to the one Annan have announced plans to install at Galabank in the near future, but Cairney holds no fears about the synthetic surface.
He said: "We train on astro- turf on a regular basis and have played at Recreation Park already this season so there will be no shocks regarding the pitch. The surface causes some problems for Sean O’Connor but I hope to have him available as this is a big game for the club and he is an important player."
The magnitude of the fixture is highlighted by the large travelling support making their way to the game tomorrow.
McClelland added: "There are two coaches filled with supporters heading to the game, in addition to those travelling by car. It’s a huge game and I’m positive the presence of the fans will give the players a boost as they walk out onto the pitch."
Annan started the season in magnificent fashion – winning seven of their opening eight league fixtures – but hit a bump over the winter months and suffered from an indifferent run of form. They got their title challenge back on track with a 1-0 win over Clyde last Saturday and McClelland is taking positives from the recent run of results.
"In any given season, every team goes through a rough patch at one time or another," he said. "We have had one over the winter months yet we are still well in contention for the league title.
"In this league, every team can beat each other and I would rather have a bad spell in November and December than in April and May, that’s for sure."