Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Next Linfield goal to test Rangers

Linfield manager David Jeffrey

After their Champions League heroics on Wednesday night, David Jeffrey's Linfield are preparing for a friendly against Rangers tomorrow to mark the club's 125th anniversary.

Anticipation for the game among supporters has already reached fever pitch with fans getting ready to greet local heroes David Healy and Steven Davis at Windsor Park.

And it's not just the fans who are looking forward to the marquee fixture against the SPL champions.

Linfield goalkeeper Alan Blayney is relishing the opportunity to line-up against the Glaswegian giants.

The Northern Ireland international said: "It's a tremendous game that all the players will be looking forward to.

"Rangers are a great club steeped in history and it's always good to get a test against a higher level of player.

"I think obviously a good number of our fans would follow Rangers as well so it's a special one for the supporters."

The Blues will go into tomorrow full of confidence after a highly credible 1-1 draw with BATE Borisov in the Champions League second qualifying round first leg on Wednesday.

The Belarusian champions, who have beaten Everton and drawn with Juventus in recent European campaigns, got an almighty scare at Windsor when Linfield took the lead.

And Blayney, who could only be beaten via the penalty spot, thinks the performance shows just how well the south Belfast side's preparations for the new season have gone.

"I think a draw, and one where we actually took the lead, against a quality team is something we can take a lot of encouragement from.

"It'll still be a big ask when we go over there next week but I think it shows we're ready to try and replicate what we did last season," he said.

And the 29-year-old was especially impressed by Linfield's goal-scoring debutant Daryl Fordyce.

"Daryl's done well to get his goal and he'll have a good season. Obviously he's been at Glentoran but I think everyone can see that he wants to play for Linfield.

"He's worked really hard in training, and on Wednesday night and in the pre-season games against Kilmarnock and Carrick he's shown what he can do."

Blayney is quick to heap praise on others but is more modest when it comes to his own achievements. Despite winning the Ulster Footballer of the Year accolade last season, team silverware is his main concern.

"If the team aren't winning trophies then my performances don't really mean anything," he said.

"It's nice to win awards but I just want to play well to help the team win as often as possible."

Tomorrow that could mean keeping the considerable striking talents of Steven Naismith, Nicola Jelavic and Healy at bay.

* TICKETS for Linfield v Rangers will be on sale at the Windsor Park Superstore until close of business today.

Tomorrow tickets can be purchased from the Linfield ticket office from 11am. Adult tickets, priced £20, are available for all sections of the stadium while £10 concessions are available for the Lower Kop and North Stands.

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