Belfast Telegraph

Linfield ace Andy Waterworth vows to find his golden touch again

Waterworth sure he'll break his duck soon to help Blues prove they have title hunger

By Graham Luney

Linfield ace Andy Waterworth is confident he will open his goalscoring account for this season sooner rather than later and has rubbished claims that Blues players lack hunger.

David Healy's men are easy targets for criticism as there is a huge weight of expectation on the players to bring the big prizes back to Windsor Park.

Linfield haven't won the league title or Irish Cup since 2012 and after Glenavon triumphed in the showpiece final back in May, the Blues' failings were once again placed under the microscope.

Healy has responded by freshening up the squad with quality additions who can also boast international experience and the scintillating second-half performance against the Lurgan Blues last weekend suggested there's a bright new dawn visible in south Belfast.

While former Glentoran striker Waterworth accepts that it's up to the players to deliver under pressure, he will not stand by quietly and absorb accusations that he and his team-mates don't care.

"I think the Irish Cup final was a one-off game and should be judged in that way," said the 30-year-old.

"I think it's unfair to say the boys lacked hunger or their attitude was wrong. Sometimes things go against you and the reality is that goals change games.

"Had we scored after a bright start we could have built on that and people would have hailed a young team for winning the trophy but we didn't and Glenavon went on to win. There are so many variables in a match and it can swing one way for so many reasons, such as a big performance from one player.

"I know people have questioned the hunger of the players but I know the boys and I would never do that.

"People can draw that conclusion if they want to but that's not the reality. On occasions perhaps we haven't been good enough but it's not about a lack of desire to bring success to the club."

Despite smashing in 32 goals last season, 22 in the Danske Bank Premiership - putting him top of the charts - Waterworth hasn't found his shooting boots yet and a low drive which whistled past the Glenavon post last Saturday summed up his frustration.

"Perhaps last season that chance would have been taken," he added. "There will always be periods in any striker's career when the goals slow down or struggle to come. It's part and parcel of this career as a footballer and you just have to keep working hard. I'm performing a different role under David (Healy) than I was under Warren Feeney and David Jeffrey. David (Healy) likes to play through the strikers and now the ball will be coming into my feet more and attacking moves starting that way while before I was like the last man, producing an energetic performance in the box.

"Now there is every chance I could be on the bench on Saturday as Aaron Burns and Paul Smyth have both been scoring goals. There's very strong competition for places in the team and with the new striker coming in (Kris Bright) it's getting harder to retain your place in the team.

"With the club going another season without winning a trophy, an influx of new players was needed and what that means is you cannot afford to have a bad game or you're out."

Dungannon Swifts, who can leapfrog Linfield with a win at Windsor Park today, won't be short of confidence and Waterworth knows the critics will remain in the background, sharpening their knives.

"There seems to be extreme reactions but you just need to always look at things rationally," he added.

"After the draw with Coleraine people were writing us off as title challenges and our hopes were gone. Then we get a decent draw at Crusaders with 10 men and beat Glenavon comfortably and now we are back in the title race! One minute we will never win the league, the next we are among the favourites!"

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts, Windsor Park, Today, 3.00pm

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