Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Healy is reason I'm near 100th Linfield goal: Waterworth

By Alex Mills

linfield's Andy Waterworth is closing in on a famous century - and he's handing all the plaudits to his manager David Healy.

The 30-year-old striker pocketed his 20th goal of the season in Tuesday night's 2-0 Danske Bank Premiership win over Cliftonville at Windsor Park, keeping Healy's boys in title contention.

Waterworth is now only one away from joining a list of Linfield greats that have hit 100 goals for the club and insists former Northern Ireland striker Healy is the man with the Midas touch.

"The manager has changed my game," said the former Hamilton Accies man. "I've always wanted to be the person who goes in behind defenders. I like to turn quickly and run at people.

"But the manager wants me to take the ball in a bit more, make it stick, and be more of a focal point. He has helped me work on the physical side of the game and the clever things.

"I always go for the ball, but now I'm learning how to win clever free-kicks in good areas. He's been brilliant for me."

Waterworth admits Healy devotes much of his time working with the strikers at the club.

"We disagree and argue quite a bit and he'll happily tell me when I'm doing things wrong, but I know he wants the best for me," he laughed.

"He sees it as a part of my game that needs improved. I am playing differently but I am enjoying it. As long as I am on the pitch I am enjoying it. At the start of the year I was left out after a poor performance, but I'm feeling better than I've ever felt.

"Our physio, Terry Hayes, is always telling me after games that I need to stop running so much, or at least stop making silly runs.

"I'm eager and enthusiastic; I know my strengths and my limitations. I know I'm not the easiest on the eye at times, but I've always chased lost causes.

"Earlier in my career I chased everything and maybe in latter stages in certain games, when the ball did fall for me, I was too tired to take full advantage - and I got stick for it.

"But one example of that changing was when I scored against Ballymena United this season in the last few minutes because I had kept myself fresh."

Waterworth has been joined up front by Cameron Stewart and Paul Smyth, who is back to his best following a 10-week injury lay-off.

"Having Cameron up front with me has helped," said Waterworth. "When I play with Paul Smyth we both like to go in behind.

"Cameron is really willing to learn. People have been critical about the gaffer not bringing more players in, but he saw Cameron as a striker when maybe no one else did and he has been brilliant. He's a strong boy and I'm so pleased for him."

Although the Blues still trail Crusaders by seven points in the table, Waterworth insists they'll not be giving it up, especially after such a convincing showing against the Reds.

"It did seem comfortable," he added. "Goals change games and once Jay Donnelly missed the penalty it gave us the wake-up call we needed.

"Cliftonville are a good side and you have to be bang on song tactically against them. We're now down to seven games - we'll take one at a time and see where it takes us."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph