Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Linfield are still team to beat, says Baxter

While many scribes were busy penning Linfield’s obituaries, Stephen Baxter was not nipping out to the shops for a sympathy card.

The Crusaders boss knows that you write the champions off at your peril and as he prepares to take his side to Windsor Park tonight, he concurs that rumours of the Blues demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Despite one of their more turbulent seasons, David Jeffrey’s man are still riding high at the top of the league and booked their place in the last eight of the JJB Sports Irish Cup on Saturday.

It’s quite a crisis and one that had a knowing Baxter shaking his head.

“I said all this when they were clamouring to change the manager and change the personnel but when you’ve been in the game as long as I have, it isn’t too long before Linfield get their big engine back in gear and they drive forward,” he explained.

“They’ve gone on a tremendous run and have all the best players and are getting them fit again and they’ve had to endure a bit of what we have to every week because we don’t have a big panel.

“They had a bit of a stutter but they are back with a vengeance and we know how tall an order it will be in Tuesday night.

“But we will go with confidence, ask our team to play and give it their very best and the boys won’t disappoint me.

“We won’t lose any sleep about it. It’s another league game, Ballymena is another one on Saturday and that’s all I’m thinking about.

“I think we need three points to put us in the top six and that’s where we have to be to secure our own future because the finances will come through with the bigger games and we’re really looking forward to it. It would be lovely to get them at Linfield. We’re on a good wee run ourselves and playing with a rhythm and a pattern, so we’re pleased with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and it’s good to watch Crusaders this season.”

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