Belfast Telegraph

Linfield manager David Jeffrey primed for one more rallying cry

By Stuart McKinley

David Jeffrey has banished any thoughts that he will allow sentiment to enter his mind this afternoon.

Instead the Linfield manager is focused on doing all that he can to keep the Blues in the title race until the final day of the season on Saturday.

Jeffrey will step down at the weekend after 17 trophy-laden years at the helm and today's clash with Glentoran marks not only his final Big Two battle, but also his last home game at Windsor Park.

It is also Linfield's final home match before the South Stand gets pulled down as part of a £30m redevelopment of the stadium begins this summer.

All that matters, however, is collecting the three points, as well as hoping that Portadown, who drew 1-1 with Linfield on Saturday, can stop Cliftonville – who are three points clear at the top of the Premiership – from putting one hand on the Gibson Cup when they meet at Shamrock Park.

"This title race is far from over," declared Jeffrey.

"Cliftonville are in the box seat and they have gone on a fabulous run. They have two tough away games to come and that will be a challenge for them.

"We have got to make sure that we take care of business against Glentoran and Glenavon.

"We have two games of football to win and that is the focus.

"I have been at this club for a long time first as a player, then as assistant manager and now as manager.

"I have prepared myself for it coming to an end but there will be plenty of time for emotion and for reflection at the end of the season.

"My only concern is Linfield Football Club and we want to finish the season on a high."

And while Linfield must hope that there is another twist in the tale in order for them to give Jeffrey the perfect send off by winning a 10th league title under his management, defender Sean Ward admits that a scenario where Cliftonville fail to pick up enough points to secure the league for a second successive season is unlikely – mainly because of how teams play against the Blues.

"Until we are mathematically out of it, we will continue to fight for every point that we can," said Ward.

"After the league split we realised that there weren't too many games that we could drop points in.

"We have made things very difficult for ourselves, but the focus now is on the next two games.

"Since the Cliftonville game we have been hoping that other teams would do us favours, but that doesn't happen when you are at Linfield."

Today's game doesn't only have significance for Jeffrey and Linfield though.

It is rumoured to be Glentoran full-back Jason Hill's last Big Two match as well.

The 32-year-old is expected to retire at the end of the campaign, which will also see him bring the curtain down on his testimonial season.

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