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Blues 'must overcome old enemy to energise title quest'

By Graham Luney

Chris Casement says Linfield have to lick their wounds quickly and come out fighting against Glentoran at the Oval tomorrow.

The Blues can be sure that Glentoran will show no mercy as the east Belfast side know that defeat will end their hopes of winning silverware this season.

But David Healy's side need a pick up after the surprise Premiership defeat to Coleraine on Tuesday night and an Irish Cup fifth round win over the old enemy would certainly put smiles back on their faces. "We've got to regroup and move on quickly as we have an absolutely massive game against Glentoran," said Casement. "It's a very important time of the season and we can't feel sorry for ourselves.

"For the players, fans and everyone connected with the club this Irish Cup game is of huge significance. If you can make it to an Irish Cup Final it's the biggest day of the season and an achievement you can be very proud of.

"In these Big Two games you have to win the battle first to earn the right to play and we are under no illusions how difficult it is going to be. The club has painful memories from last year's final but Glenavon deserved credit, they were the better team on the day."

The 28-year-old, like his team-mates, will remain defiant and he is warning Crusaders that the Blues will never let go of their Danske Bank Premiership title dream until it becomes mathematically impossible to finish as champions.

The loss to the Bannsiders allowed leaders Crusaders to go seven points clear at the summit, their 4-2 victory at Ards an important response to that 2-1 defeat to Linfield at the weekend.

The euphoria felt after the magnificent victory at Seaview didn't last long as Jordan Allan's header at Windsor Park sunk Healy's boys who had Jimmy Callacher sent off in the 33rd minute.

Callacher will now miss the Irish Cup showdown, a game which has been given even more spice by Linfield's Premiership headache. The Blues need to win league matches to keep the pressure on the champions but a seven point gap is a significant one, even though the title chasers still have 14 games to play.

Former Portadown defender Casement added: "It's disappointing to be seven points behind Crusaders but we will not give up. We will fight to the end and only concede defeat if we have to when it's mathematically impossible to win it.

"There will be more twists and turns and we have to be in a position where we can capitalise when other teams drop points. Crusaders are a good side and they don't lose many games but we need to keep the pressure on them.

"To do that we need to put a winning run together and we will fight to the end."

• Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher, who is suspended for tomorrow's Irish Cup clash, has been named Player of the Month for December.

"This is my first ever award and I'm delighted to receive it," said Callacher who scored three goals last month.

"You have to enjoy this game. I do feel pressure in the big games but you must blank that out.

"You have the crowds and the opposition but we have a job to do on the pitch. Glentoran will be tough opponents for the boys in the Cup as in my opinion they are in a false position in the league."

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