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Blues ready for defining period: Lowry

By Graham Luney

Stephen Lowry says Linfield's players are ready to stand up and be counted at a crucial stage of the season.

The Blues travel to Institute in the sixth round of the Tennent's Irish Cup today before wrestling with Crusaders in the final of the County Antrim Shield at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Tuesday night.

Back-to-back defeats would leave the Blues' hopes of winning any silverware this season dangling by a thread as the Crues boast a seven-point advantage in the title race.

"Our manager will not accept any drop in standards," said Lowry. "David (Healy) knows he can't praise the players too much as it's all about the next match and they're two massive games. This is a crucial period and the players know the pressure is on but we have to deliver.

"Last season's Irish Cup final passed us by and we want to go one better while the Shield final is a great chance to start winning trophies again."

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