Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Jeffrey makes squad a priority

David Jeffrey has put retaining the services of his history making squad at the top of his priority list.

The Linfield manager will stick by the men who landed the Irish League and Cup double for the third season in succession last Saturday by beating Coleraine in the Irish Cup final.

That success helped Jeffrey win the Harp Northern Ireland Football Writers Manager of the Month award for April, the 23rd such award in his career, and he will again put his faith in tried and trusted methods.

He has already completed one new signing, with defender Jonny Harkness returning to the club he left as a teenager, and while he is unlikely to be the last there will be no more fresh faces in the immediate future.

"The priority is to deal with our own players and that will be done as soon as possible," said Jeffrey.

"Although our season has finished I have been preparing for next Tuesday's under-23 representative game against the Republic of Ireland with a training session on Tuesday night, one this evening and then we have William Murphy's testimonial game on Saturday.

"The short gap isn't a problem, it will give everyone some thinking time and things will be sorted out next week.

"My own players are first and foremost in my thinking. I want them to be sorted out first before any more new faces are brought in because I don't want them thinking that a new player is coming in and the decision over their future is therefore made before they are spoken to."

Last season all of Linfield's out of contract players were retained. This time there are likely to be some departures with rival clubs already declaring their interest in members of Jeffrey's squad.

Having won three trophies in all during the season Jeffrey is now hot favourite to win the Manager of the Year award yet again, but even the man himself won't be taking that for granted.

"This is my 23rd Manager of the Month award and it doesn't just feel as good as the first, it feels even better," said Jeffrey.

Meanwhile, both Tommy Wright and Paul Kirk are pleased that the IFA has reduced their bans which were inposed following their altercation in a league game between Ballymena United and Lisburn Distillery. Originally the IFA Disciplinary Committee handed out SIX match stadium bans to Wright and Kirk.

But on appeal, the duo will now serve four match bans and instead of being banned from the stadium, they will be banned from the touchline.

Wright, who left Ballymena at the end of the season, and Whites boss Kirk were impressed by how the Appeals Board handled the process.

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