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Glenavon's Jonny Tuffey is hoping for a Linfield return to cherish

By Graham Luney

It's the battle of the Blues at Windsor Park tomorrow but Linfield old boy Jonny Tuffey admits his former club are red hot this season.

After winning seven of their opening eight Danske Bank Premiership games, Linfield are threatening to look like serious title challengers and keeper Tuffey, who was let go by Blues chief Warren Feeney in April, has been impressed by the early pacesetters.

Former Northern Ireland keeper Tuffey made 77 appearances for Linfield and he will be hungry to frustrate a few old comrades tomorrow but he refuses to look back in anger.

After signing a two-year deal with Glenavon the 28-year-old started targeting new goals with the Lurgan Blues and he's confident Gary Hamilton's side can give Feeney's boys a rough ride.

"The Linfield game is a massive one though I take the view all the games are in that category," said Tuffey.

"They are the league leaders and credit to them they have made a fantastic start.

"I think in these scenarios you worry about what you can do rather than show the opposition too much respect.

"I'm long enough in the game to know that you will not stay at one club forever and my Linfield chapter is closed. I had two fantastic seasons there but I'm a Glenavon player now and determined to help them achieve success.

"It's great to see Linfield doing well and that Warren Feeney has been given time to put his stamp on the team. Their results show they are moving in the right direction but so are we and we are excited about this game. I know what it is like from my time at Linfield and other sides are inspired when they come and compete at the national stadium.

"It's great for us to go there and perform in a magnificent stadium on an immaculate surface and you hope the young lads embrace the occasion."

Another former Linfield soldier arrived at Mourneview Park this week with David Jeffrey's former number two, Bryan McLaughlin, joining the coaching set-up.

Former Partick Thistle keeper Tuffey added: "Gary (Hamilton) has done his homework and brought Bryan in. I think he's a great addition to the squad after Stevie McBride couldn't continue due to personal reasons.

"Bryan comes in with the experience of working with one the best managers around in David Jeffrey and their record together is second to none. Brian is a winner and the Glenavon players will benefit from his expertise, particularly the younger players if they take on board what he says."

Tuffey experienced his first mid-Ulster derby on Tuesday night and it was a tasty affair with the visitors storming back from two goals down at Shamrock Park to snatch a point.

"It was my first mid-Ulster derby and a typical derby battle, very frantic and good to watch but I felt the boys showed great character and hung in there before battling back to get a point," he added.

"Overall we haven't been playing badly but sometimes things just don't go your way like when we played the Crues (2-1 defeat). Against Glentoran (0-0) I felt we could have won that game.

"In the last two matches against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers we have fought back to secure a point and we can take a lot of encouragement from that.

"There's a great team spirit here and I believe we are moving in the right direction.

"I'm really enjoying it at Glenavon. Gary (Hamilton) was honest with me from the moment I signed and all the staff have been terrific.

"I've come to a club with real ambition and the days of relegation fears have been replaced by back to back European qualification and an Irish Cup win.

"There's pressure to live up to those expectations every season but you want that."

Belfast Telegraph


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