Belfast Telegraph

Peter Thompson knows the score again as Linfield set out on revenge mission

By Graham Luney

Peter Thompson says he's thrilled to feel part of the Linfield family again - and that's bad news for Glentoran.

The 27-year-old made his long-awaited return to action for the Blues against Lisburn Distillery last Tuesday night - and in trademark fashion he slotted home a crucial goal that saved his side from crashing to an embarrassing defeat.

Thompson was included for the first time since September 17 after undergoing surgery on a kidney complaint.

The Northern Ireland international was due to run out for the Swifts, but after the postponement of their fixture at Ballyskeagh, he was back on the stage where he belongs.

Second half substitute Thompson only needed eight minutes to hurt his opponents and he couldn't have timed his recovery better with the champions heading to the Oval this afternoon to take on Glentoran in the annual festive showdown.

His comeback will also come as a timely boost to manager David Jeffrey who cannot select Mark McAllister (pictured) due to suspension.

With Linfield five points clear of the chasing pack as they set about their title defence, Jeffrey's men have been coping admirably without the ace goal-getter.

Thompson's return to action will greatly enhance their chances of retaining the Gibson Cup and perhaps even the Irish Cup given his love affair with the competition.

But for the man himself, this season has been about a personal triumph as well as the team success he is no stranger to.

Since undergoing his kidney operation, Thompson has felt isolated from the Linfield family - footballers simply want to play and not being able to train and enjoy the camaraderie of the Blues dressing room will have hurt.

It's very possible that much of the pain will be released from his body and mind should 'Pistol' fire home a crucial strike in today's Big Two blockbuster.

"I'm delighted to be back, I think that goes without saying," admitted Thompson.

"Scoring goals is my job and what I am in the team to do, but simply playing the game is a tremendous feeling.

"Funnily enough it was a typical Peter Thompson strike, close to the six yard box! It wasn't until around 6.15pm on the night that I knew I would play a part.

"The rehabilitation has gone very well and perhaps I'm back a bit earlier than was anticipated but I don't feel nervous or even that emotional about it - it's just a relief to be back and it's a case of building up my match fitness now.

"The physio Terry Hayes has been looking after me and it's up to me to build my strength up and get sharper. I was tired around the time of the operation and it was frustrating knowing I couldn't give 100 per cent. The surgery was needed to rectify it."

The sight of Thompson in a Linfield jersey this afternoon will send a shiver down the spines of Glentoran fans and given the east-Belfast side's failure to set the Carling Premiership on fire this season, the striker is expecting a fierce battle with the old enemy.

"Glentoran have already beaten us twice this season so there's no doubting they could beat us again," added Thompson.

"It's a tough game against them at any time of the season, but there's always an extra edge in the Boxing Day fixture.

"It should be another cracking game in front of a big crowd but we will, as always, go looking for the three points."

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