Noel Bailie has hailed Peter Thompson’s return to Linfield as the “fantastic surprise” that can bring the Gibson Cup back to Windsor Park.
When Thommo was in full flight at Windsor the trophies were piling up but Linfield won nothing last season without the Northern Ireland international and they have so far struggled to stamp their authority on this title chase.
Bailie, himself, has struggled to get into the Linfield team this season but he linked up alongside his comrade William Murphy for the 2-2 draw against Glentoran on Tuesday night.
Since agreeing a six-month loan deal with the Blues from Stockport County, Thompson shone in the Irish Cup against Donegal Celtic and then against the Glens.
His presence was sorely missed in the Paddy Power County Antirm Shield decider when Crusaders ran out winners.
But with Thommo set to make his second Windsor bow in Linfield colours tomorrow against Newry City, his shooting boots are sufficient reason for other title rivals to be afraid.
“Peter’s return was a fantastic surprise,” said Bailie. “I think Stockport County were looking to cut their wage bill but no-one could have predicted this.
“We knew how dangerous Peter was in the box but his game has improved so much outside the box as well. He played well against DC and then he was a big thorn in Glentoran’s side in the second half.
“He’s strong and a great finisher and hopefully there is much more to come from him. As a defender, we are always striving to keep clean sheets and that has been another concern for us but hopefully the goals can keep coming from our strikers.
“Scoring two goals is fine but if we are conceding two goals in a game that’s not good. For the fifth time in eight games we have conceded two or more goals and that only puts more pressure on the forwards. The defence has got a lot to answer for.”
Speaking of pressure, David Jeffrey this week blasted any suggestion he would quit as manager.
Bailie added: “That’s typical David. He’ll stand up to the camera or to the written press and face the criticism. He knows himself if the time was right to step aside.
“He’s a strong character and passionate about the job. It’s not something he will walk away from.
“He loves the job and the club and together we will give the Irish Cup and league title our best shot.
“Week in, week out we must perform for the full 90 minutes but David is the big man for the big occasion and he’ll do what he feels is right for the club. He’ll stand up and be counted as the rest of us have to do.”