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Bailie's shock at Glenavon poor run

By Graham Luney

Linfield supporters might be thinking about a certain game on Boxing Day in east Belfast but Windsor Park chief David Jeffrey will make sure his men have Glenavon on their minds this afternoon.

Cliftonville are showing stunning consistency at the top of the table and the champions know they must stay on full throttle if they want to keep the Gibson Cup in south Belfast.

The Lurgan Blues arrive at Windsor today desperate for points after suffering five successive league defeats.

But just ahead of the hectic holiday schedule, Linfield skipper Noel Bailie says he firmly believes that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

"I'm surprised Glenavon have been struggling recently as I thought they would be doing much better," he said.

"But just because a team has a few bad results it doesn't mean they will capitulate against us.

"Look at Ballymena United - they were struggling for a while and there was talk of a crisis but now they have shot up to fourth in the league.

"This is a critical time for teams and it does test squads. People talk about our squad being big but you still have to perform on the pitch and I've looked at other squads and thought they looked pretty strong.

"I can remember playing against Ballymena and looking at their bench and thinking they have good players to bring on.

"Cliftonville also have a very strong squad this year and they haven't let many players, if any, leave.

"These holiday games can be tough on the players, particularly with the heavy ground as you can pick up all sorts of niggly injuries.

"But we are certainly grateful to have two great new additions coming in for us in Oran Kearney and Conor Downey.

"Oran made an instant impact on his comeback by making one of those surging runs I can remember him doing at Ballymena.

"He won us a penalty against Newry and he's a class act, as is Conor.

"I think Conor has had about five games for the Swifts and he's very hungry to play again after a long spell out."

Linfield are without Tim Mouncey who has a chest infection and the injured Thomas Stewart but Billy Joe Burns has been added to the first-team panel.

"He is a great player, very good in the air and on the ground," added Bailie.

"I think he has a bright future ahead of him and he is definitely one for the very near future."

Meanwhile, Jeffrey is expecting a real battle against Colin Malone's side.

"Glenavon are fighting for their lives," he said.

"They will prove very tough opponents. What we want to do is focus on getting three points and make sure we stay in touch with a very good Cliftonville side at the top of the table."

Malone is without the injured Gerard McMahon and John Douglas.

Belfast Telegraph


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