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Healy admits Blues can kiss goodbye to title if Crues widen gap

By Alex Mills

David Healy will take his seat in the Windsor Park dugout for the last time this season when Ards leave a calling card for a crucial Danske Bank Premiership clash tomorrow.

The Linfield boss begins a six-match touchline ban on Monday - the legacy of his third red card of the campaign. His appeal against the suspension was dismissed by the IFA's Disciplinary Committee on Wednesday night.

It means the former Northern Ireland striker must watch his team's title push from the grandstand. With the Blues also involved in an Irish Cup semi-final against Dungannon Swifts, Healy will be back prowling the touchline for the final Premiership outing of the campaign - away at Cliftonville on April 29.

With table-topping Crusaders not playing Ballinamallard United until Monday night, Linfield have the chance to exert a little bit of pressure by cutting the gap to four points, should they dispose of Ards.

"I watch a lot of football on television over the course of the week and I consistently hear the top managers or players who are involved in relegation battles talk about the psychological aspect of the game," said Healy. "Sometimes that can work in your favour.

"Crusaders took the opportunity of extending their lead to 10 points by beating Carrick Rangers last Saturday. It meant that a little bit of extra pressure was heaped on us for Monday night's game with Cliftonville, but we passed with flying colours.

"On paper, we should beat Ards and Crusaders should beat Ballinamallard. But you have to work for anything you get in this game.

"The reality is that we have to make sure the gap doesn't widen. The most important thing for us is keeping the gap to seven points ahead of the split - that's the minimum we could work with.

"We need to do our job against Ards. I watched them against Ballinamallard recently. They were solid and organised. I know they had previously conceded a lot of goals but they didn't appear to be weak at the back.

"They have picked up some good results of late so they will be coming to Windsor Park in a buoyant mood."

Although the Blues are still playing catch-up, Healy insists his men are in a good place.

He added: "The confidence in the squad has been building since we lost at home to Coleraine.

"We also drew with Portadown and suddenly we were in the middle of a crisis. But we've won the Co Antrim Shield, we've won our Irish Cup games and we are still battling in the league. So we are in good form.

"The last thing we want is to get ahead of ourselves - don't forget, we are still seven points behind. You can't hide the fact that we are still chasing down the current champions.

"We are still in there battling - and we've got the Irish Cup semi-final against Dungannon Swifts to look forward to.

"The pressure is always on. Windsor Park is one of the hardest places to play when you wear a blue shirt. Some of the best players in the Irish League couldn't handle playing here. They moved on elsewhere and thrived.

"It's a hard place to manage at times as well, but I love it!"

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