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Blues must tighten the screw on Crues, says Callacher

By David Mason

Linfield defender Jimmy Callacher insists it's vital his team keep the squeeze on Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table. David Healy's boys are still playing catch-up, having dropped seven points off the pace in second place, but with Cliftonville due to visit the home of the champions today, it could be all change come 5pm.

It means there will be no room for error for Callacher and his team-mates when former Blues favourite David Jeffrey brings his resurgent Ballymena United to Windsor Park.

"We know what to expect," said Callacher.

"Big Davy has his team playing really well - they are a good side.

"They turned us over up at their place earlier in the season in the League Cup. But we returned the compliment in the league.

"They were at Windsor not so long ago and it took us until the 94th minute to get the winner, so there is little doubt it will be another tight match."

Even though Crusaders, Linfield and Cliftonville are way ahead of the chasing pack, Callacher believes it's not a clear cut three-horse title race.

"I don't think it would be fair to say that - things can change very quickly in this league. The reality is that it's (the title) in Crusaders' hands - it's up to them to lose it.

"It's a boring old cliché, but we simply have to take one game at a time.

"You can't afford to even look to the end of the month.

"Yes, there's a big game at Seaview on Saturday when Crusaders and Cliftonville clash, but we can't get caught up in that. We must look after ourselves.

"There are too many big games left, so it's impossible to predict anything.

"Crusaders have still to come to Windsor - we've to go to Solitude. But other teams can also hold the key such as Glenavon, Ballymena United, Coleraine, Glentoran and Dungannon.

"Every team can beat the other in any given fixture.

"There is no such thing as an easy three points in this league. We've simply to look after ourselves and try to pick up as many points as possible - win every game and hope for a slip-up elsewhere.

"In spite of all the negative publicity of late, we all enjoy playing at Windsor.

"Expectation levels at the club are massive and playing at Windsor brings its own pressure, but the players embrace that."

The Blues are coming off an impressive win at Glenavon while the Braidmen battled back to take three points at home to Dungannon Swifts, so this clash has all the makings of a pot boiler.

"It's important we back up last week's victory," added Callacher.

"I thought we controlled the game and certainly deserved our half-time lead. But they were awarded a penalty after the break and that changed the pattern of the game.

"Some people thought it was harsh (the handball against Mark Stafford), but if it had happened in the Glenavon box we would have been screaming for a penalty.

"We had a good win at Crusaders earlier this month (which cut the gap at the top to four points), but messed up in the next game when we were beaten at home by Coleraine. We can't afford to let that happen again."

Meanwhile, Blues striker Andrew Waterworth has signed a two-year extension to his existing contract.

Waterworth has scored 15 goals so far this season and now has a total of 94 goals for the club in 164 appearances.

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