Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Linfield star Andy Waterworth happy to be compared with Ronaldo

Treble joy: Andy Waterworth with the match ball after his hat-trick for Linfield against Ballymena United

He has played only one league game for Linfield, but already Andy Waterworth's team-mates are comparing him to the world's highest paid footballer.

After marking his Premiership debut for the Blues with a hat-trick against Ballymena United on Saturday, Waterworth's colleagues have likened him to Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.

And the pair do actually have something in common after both bagged trebles at Windsor Park, eight days apart.

"It was a very nice way to mark my league debut," said Waterworth, who has spent the last six weeks recovering from a broken leg sustained when he made his first appearance for the club in July.

"My debut in Europe was brilliant; to score the goal, but unfortunately I broke my leg.

"After that this was like a dream.

"You always want to score on your debut and get a win, but to score a hat-trick was brilliant.

"The boys were bantering me in the dressing room saying that the last player to score a hat-trick at Windsor Park was Ronaldo. I'll take that."

Waterworth's goals sealed a 4-1 win for the Blues and made it three wins in a row for David Jeffrey's side.

Two weeks ago they were bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership table with just two points from their opening four matches. Now they are fourth and just four points adrift of leaders and defending champions Cliftonville.

Waterworth, who joined the Blues from Big Two rivals Glentoran in the summer, is readying himself for big battles on a weekly basis as Linfield try to win back the title.

"I think the league now is so tough," he said.

"Every team seems to be up for the challenge and obviously when teams are playing Linfield they are raising their game.

"We need to go and attack teams more and it's a big challenge, but I think the squad we have are really up for it. Hopefully we keep the momentum going and get more wins on the board."

And the 27-year-old is well aware that, despite his hat-trick, there are other challenges closer to home.

"It's my first senior hat-trick so I am delighted," he said.

"I just hope I keep my place every week. If we get wins brilliant, if I get goals it's a big bonus.

"I look at young lads like Conor McMenamin and Rodney Brown, then Peter Thompson, Matthew Tipton and Mark McAllister.

"The competition for places among the strikers is the most I've ever seen. Everybody works really hard and wants everyone else to do well. That's what we need until the end of the season because different players will be important at different times."

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Cliftonville have announced that club captain Chris Scannell will make his comeback from injury in a reserve team friendly against Larne tomorrow night.

The striker has been out of action for a year after tearing his Achilles tendon.

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