Belfast Telegraph

Paul Smyth vows to keep sparkling for Linfield

Talented teenager Paul is a wanted man but says transfer talk will not stop him terrorising rivals

By Graham Luney

Paul Smyth says speculation regarding his future at Linfield will not stop him from terrorising defences in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Last season's Young Player of the Year is being closely watched by several cross-channel admirers with scouts sending back glowing reports.

Another man of the match performance in the 3-1 Charity Shield victory over Coleraine at The Oval is likely to keep interest high but boss David Healy, who is without the injured Andy Waterworth, doesn't want to see this diamond slip from his grasp.

League Two side Crawley Town have tested Linfield's resolve with an offer of around £60,000 while other clubs are monitoring the gifted youngster.

Smyth, who netted the third goal with a delicious lob over keeper Chris Johns in the 79th minute, does have a burning desire to play at a higher level but he also knows the timing must be right for Linfield.

"I'm just focusing on Linfield," said Smyth who turns 20 next month. "I don't really care about what's going on behind the scenes.

"I just want to get on with my game and try to play well. We will see what happens after that but I'm a Linfield player and always will be until something does happen. At the minute, nothing has developed so I'll keep on playing for the club."

There's no doubt Smyth has the qualities to shine in the professional game but Healy is looking to strengthen his frontline. The winger will get his break, with next summer appearing a more likely date for a move.

He was certainly too hot for Coleraine to handle but the Bannsiders ran out of gas while Linfield's stamina, fitness and hunger is already evident. Josh Carson's fine 33rd minute finish rattled the Blues but they responded in the way champions do and Aaron Burns hit the equaliser five minutes later.

Substitute Andy Mitchell made it 2-1 on 74 minutes with another stunning execution but, appropriately, Smyth landed the final blow and soaked up the applause.

"It's a trophy and we want to win every one we can get this season," he added. "We started off well for the first 20 minutes and died off a bit when they got their goal but we regrouped and ended up deserved winners.

"David Healy wants to play neat and tidy football more than a long game but if in doubt you have to do that. He has a style of play he wants and we are sticking to it.

"I know Andy is injured but everyone is beneficial here and we don't have any bad players at Linfield. One injury will not stop us from progressing but hopefully Andy gets fit soon and starts scoring again.

"The manager wanted to bring in players to perform when injuries happen and he's got another strong squad that will go for the league title again. The players are expected to do well and win every game, the boys who come of the bench know that too and they look the part. Fingers crossed we can go on and win more trophies as this club needs to do that."

As champions, Linfield will be under the spotlight but the pressure and expectation at Windsor Park is greater than anywhere else.

Smyth added: "In the Irish League there is always pressure on you no matter what game you go into. Any team can beat anyone else so you can't underestimate any side."

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