Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Thompson makes a point

Peter Thompson pictured finding the back of the Ballymena United net in the CIS Cup, says Linfield have no intention of breaking their winning habit

Peter Thompson has warned Linfield's domestic rivals the Blues will not remove their foot from the accelerator as they continue their relentless pursuit of silverware.

David Jeffrey's men are within touching distance of a place in the quarter-finals of the CIS Insurance Cup - a win over Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park this afternoon will catapult them into the knockout stages.

But few onlookers are surprised by their record of played three, won three.

It's the winning habit which the club has got used to and Thompson insists there are no plans to slip down a gear.

Jeffrey can replace quality with quality to the extent that rivals can only look on in admiration.

But the desire to topple the Blues never goes away and the Swifts, who are level with Glenavon and Ballymena United on three points in Group A, know they face a real fight to seal a final eight spot.

"A point may be good enough to progress in the competition but we don't look at things that way," said Thompson.

"Linfield always look to get maximum points and keep up the winning habit. We have to make sure that quarter-final place is cemented and no-one is going to give us any favours.

"I think we are getting to where we want to be. We didn't play a lot of football before the European matches but now the squad is getting a run out and everyone is getting game time.

"But there cannot be any drop in our level of performance. In fact we need to keep improving and having such strong strength in depth enables us to do that.

" Damien (Curran) has joined us and he certainly fits the bill. He has a great left foot and can deliver a fantastic cross.

"He is comfortable on the ball and rarely gives it away.

"There's a nice blend of youth and experience and the team has stayed strong despite missing talent such as Oran Kearney, Conor Downey and Pat McShane."

Linfield will be without skipper Noel Bailie, who has suffered a recurrence of his calf injury, and the Blues will be aware that Harry Fay's men gave them a rough ride at Stangmore Park before Thomas Stewart netted a second half winner.

"Dungannon got a late winner against Ballymena United which will lift them," added Thompson.

"They are always tough opponents, a top five or six team who make it difficult for opponents.

"Alan Mannus had to make a few good saves against them and we were relieved to win the game. It was a match they will feel they could have got something from. They are a team which enjoys playing on the good surface at Windsor and they will have no fears about coming here.

"I think everyone at Linfield is expecting a really tough season as all the teams have got stronger and they will be out to embarrass us."

Johnny Montgomery has one more match of his suspension to serve for the Swifts but Ryan McCluskey should return next week.

Rodney McAree is on the road to recovery and hopes to turn out for the reserves next week.