Linfield midfielder Jamie Mulgrew may have been on the receiving end of some rough treatment by opposing players lately — but that's the way he likes it.
The Blues star’s performances lately have been regarded as one of the main reasons for Linfield's charge up the table and, as such, it appears as if he is being singled out as their main threat.
However, Mulgrew takes that as a back-handed compliment and is more than willing to carry on letting his feet do the talking in his battle with the Carling Premiership's hard men.
“It's a tough league and I have been struggling with knocks and injuries but that's just the way it goes,” he said.
“It's part and parcel of being at a club like Linfield or Glentoran. Everyone wants a piece of you and want to stop you performing.
“Every team you play against will always give that extra 15 or 20 per cent because they are playing us and that's just something you have to get one with.
“If people are going out to try and get at me it doesn't really bother me. I, and the rest of the team, have a job to do and we will just get on with it.
“There is no point getting involved in confrontations.
“I have taken a bit of a battering over the past couple of weeks but that's just what heppens when you are playing for a big club and playing in the position I am in.
“I'm not going to let it take the focus away from what I am setting out to do.”
Linfield, after a poor start to the campaign, have now rocketed into second place in the table, just a point behind leaders Crusaders and with a game in hand.
The visit of Institute tonight is a game that will be regarded as a home banker with Stute second bottom, just four points ahead of seemingly resurgent Lisburn Distillery.
But the Blues rarely have it easy against John Gregg’s men and it took a Kevin McHugh goal deep into injury time in the corresponding fixture in January to earn the points for David Jeffrey's side.
Indeed, but for a stunning stop from Alan Mannus, even later in the game, the Drumahoe men could have snatched a point.
Nights like that aren't easily forgotten and Mulgrew has warned that Linfield will have to be on their guard against a team scrapping for any point they can get their hands on.
“Every team raises their game against the Big Two and that is something you just have to overcome,” he added. “But it is a very competitive league and every team is dangerous in their own way. Institute have always given us a tough game over the years and they have a lot of dangerous players.
“From playing against them in the past I know what they can do. I wasn't playing in the last game but I know they gave us a hard match at their ground and gave the Glens a tough game too, so I actually think their position down there is false.
“But we just have to worry about ourselves.
“We have gone on a good run now and the confidence is building up week on week because of the results we have been getting.
There has been a lot of comings and goings over the past couple of years here and it's a difficult place to settle into but the new boys are starting to find their feet now.
“The (4-0) defeat to Cliftonville was probably a blessing in disguise because it made everyone aware of the expectations that everyone at the club has to meet.
“We have turned things around since then, but we have to carry it on and keep up the level of consistency that we have set if we want to win this league.”