Linfield manager David Jeffrey keen to highlight case for defence
While Linfield's forward line of Matthew Tipton and Andrew Waterworth have been grabbing the headlines in recent weeks, manager David Jeffrey is keen to praise his side's defence.
At the start of the season Linfield were leaking goals, but in October Jeffrey found a settled back four that has helped his team cement their place at the top of the table.
Ahead of today's Premiership match with basement club Ards at Windsor Park, David Jeffrey said: "The back four and our goalkeeper have all done extremely well. Jonny Tuffey has come in and done well, while we now have a settled defence in front of him with William Joseph (Burns), Niall (Quinn), Kyle (McVey) and Sean (Ward).
"Those four are now playing together on a regular basis and that has given them all confidence and a deeper understanding of how to play together.
"We've also got Jamie Mulgrew and Michael Gault in front of them. I think Michael in particular has been awesome.
"The whole first team is playing well, but we've also six or seven players who are busting to get in and show what they can do.
"Perhaps we don't have the squad depth that we've had in previous years, but thankfully we've kept relatively injury free.
"That's allowed me to have consistency in my selection which has certainly helped us."
Linfield will be without Peter Thompson, Ross Glendenning and Ross Clarke for the Ards game who are all currently injured.
Their opponents on the other hand have been decimated by injury. There will be no Windsor Park return for ex-Blues defenders David Armstrong and Andrew Hunter.
Armstrong's heel injury will keep him out for at least another month, while Hunter is a fortnight away from achieving full match fitness.
Ards are hoping to welcome back another former Linfield man in Ryan Henderson, but Ross Arthurs, Kyle McDowell, Steven Gordon and Gary Spence are still unavailable.
Ards boss Niall Currie recognises that his side face an uphill task at Windsor Park this afternoon without so many key players.
Ards currently sit at the foot of the table having lost all seven of their away league games this season.
"A trip to Windsor Park to play Linfield is always a tough task in a tough environment and it will be even more difficult with our injury problems," said Currie.
"But we're now into the second series of games and it's obvious that we have made a lot of progress.
"Our players have come on really well and they're improving every week. You could see that in our performances against both Glenavon and Portadown.
"I've said it many times, but we've a young side full of inexperienced players, but they've been superb in recent weeks.
"All I'm asking is they go out on the field and show the supporters that they're full of desire and belief.
"We are playing rightly these days and with the great support we have behind us I think we will be fine, there is no doubt in my mind."