Mark McAllister believes that his Linfield strike partner Rory Patterson is just one goal away from rediscovering his devastating scoring touch.
And McAllister is relishing the moment when Patterson triggers a run of form that he hopes will take the Blues to a third successive title.
Two seasons ago, Patterson scared the life out of Irish League defences, when his 41 goals for Coleraine saw him romp to a double Player of the Year award.
Now back in the Carling Premiership after a troubled 12-months at Plymouth Argle, where the goals didn’t flow with the same regularity and the club’s precarious financial situation saw him go for months without wages, Patterson’s deadly finishing ability has yet to come to the fore again at Windsor Park.
He’s weighed in with just three league goals in 11 appearances since joining Linfield in a season-long loan deal, but the feeling around Windsor is that a goal glut isn’t far away.
“Rory has come back from England with a reputation for scoring goals, even though things maybe didn’t quite work out as he’d hoped they would at Plymouth,” said McAllister (pictured).
“He scored 40-odd goals at Coleraine, so we know how dangerous he can be. Average strikers just don’t do that.
“I know from personal experience that it can take players quite a while to settle at Linfield.
“It took me close on a full year before I felt like I’d really settled and was playing well consistently.
“Rory is still working hard and he’s created a few goals for myself and others, so he’s still making a valuable contribution.
“We know that the goals will come and once one goes in for him he’ll push on and I expect him to be as dangerous as he was at Coleraine.”
McAllister himself has scored only six of Linfield’’s 30 league goals — which is a major sign that the Blues aren’t simply relying on their frontmen to deliver while Peter Thompson recovers from kidney surgery that will keep him out until the New Year.
Although McAllister doesn’t believe the expectation levels are any less.
“There is always responsibility on the shoulders of the players and there’s an expectation to perform,” he said.
“Before, when Peter was in the team, he was scoring regularly so that took the pressure off a bit.
“The team is scoring plenty of goals so we’re happy with that. Jim Ervin and Robert Garrett chipped in last week against Portadown and it’s great when others play their part.
“As a striker I want to score goals, it’s part of my job and your confidence always goes up when you’re scoring, but I feel that I’ve been playing my part when I haven’t been scoring as well.”