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Blues are still up for title fight: Haughey

By Graham Luney

Linfield's two Danske Bank Premiership defeats this season have both been to Crusaders but Mark Haughey doesn't believe their disappointing form against the champions will result in psychological damage.

The Crues' 1-0 victory at Windsor Park means Stephen Baxter's side are now unbeaten in 10 visits to the international venue and earlier in the campaign they swept aside the Blues 3-0 at Seaview.

Warren Feeney was in charge of Linfield at that time but last Saturday new boss David Healy was offered a reminder of how tough it will be to cut down the Hatchetmen this season.

Jordan Owens' strike fired the north-Belfast side three points clear at the league summit but former Glenavon ace Haughey says Linfield's feathers have not been ruffled.

"There are enough experienced players in our squad not to get too concerned about losing twice to Crusaders as there is a long way to go in the season," said Haughey.

"They are disappointing results but there is no psychological damage to us as I don't believe there's a lot separating the teams. One mistake cost us at Windsor and we were unlucky when Aaron Burns struck the woodwork. We could have earned a draw but I thought both teams could have performed much better.

"You are always upset after a loss to your title rivals but our levels of self-belief and confidence are still high. We've put it behind us and are aiming to get back to winning ways."

The visit of Cliftonville today - weather permitting - is another huge test for Haughey and his team-mates.

"The Reds are capable of challenging for the title and like all the teams it's just a question of finding the consistency to do it," he added.

"We are determined to bounce back and will take heart from our victory over the Reds in the County Antrim Shield."

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