Philip Lowry is loving life at Linfield .
And although the pressure, level of expectation and supporters’ demands are worlds apart from what he was used to at Institute, the 20-year-old can’t wait for the intensity to increase.
He has missed the last couple of games through injury, but is back in training and now has three important dates with Glentoran next month in mind.
Yesterday’s quarter-final draw for the Co-operative Insurance Cup threw up a Big Two battle over two legs, with the first at the Oval on Saturday December 5 followed by the return at Windsor Park 10 days later.
And then comes the Boxing Day clash in the Carling Premiership, which this season will take place in east Belfast.
“We’ve already played Glentoran three times this season and we’re now guaranteed four more which is great,” said Lowry.
“These big games are the ones that players want to be involved in and for me there can’t be enough of them.
“I am loving every minute of my time at Linfield. No disrespect to Institute, where I had a great time, but Linfield is a different club completely.
“There is a great level of professionalism and everyone has been fantastic to me and looked after me very well.”
Northern Ireland Under-21 international Lowry has been a great capture for the Blues. He took a few weeks to settle, but that was partly down to being played out of position, but before his recent injury he was showing exactly why David Jeffrey wanted to take him to Windsor Park.
And the competition for places in the engine room — which is intense to say the least — doesn’t faze the Queen’s University student.
“I have to try to fight my way back into the team in time for these games and that is going to be tough because the competition for places in midfield is huge,” he said.
“Michael Gault and Robert Garrett are full internationals and Jamie Mulgrew is in the form of his life.
“I scored against Glentoran in the County Antrim Shield and I’d love another one against them. I’m unbeaten so far in Big Two games and hopefully I can still say that after Boxing Day.”
Linfield have a rest this weekend, with their scheduled Premiership game against Lisburn Distillery played last week due to the international fixture at home to Serbia taking place at Windsor Park on Saturday.
They can’t be knocked off the summit though, with a five points lead having been built up by taking 25 points from their last nine league outings and boasting a run of 13 games unbeaten in all competitions.
“We had a tough start to the season with our first three fixtures against Coleraine, Crusaders and Glentoran,” said Lowry.
“At the time players were still settling into the team as well.
“We’ve had players coming back from injury to strengthen the squad and that has been important for us and played a part in the run that we have been on.”
There is just one problem for Lowry though.
“Everyone asks me about enjoying the student life, but I have to train three nights a week, so it’s the quiet life for me,” said Lowry.