Belfast Telegraph

Linfield need to show belief, says returning hero Mulgrew

By Steven Beacom

Linfield great Jamie Mulgrew has insisted that if the Blues show belief at Windsor Park tomorrow night they can become Europa League victors again.

And the popular 29-year-old midfielder is primed and ready to do his bit for the cause having returned to action from injury.

Mulgrew played his first match in 14 weeks on Saturday in a friendly with Dundela. Typically, he impressed.

Whether the Northern Ireland international starts tomorrow against Slovakian outfit FC Spartak Trnava remains to be seen, but if not his experience, energy and excellence on the ball could be a telling factor from the bench.

Spartak Trnava lead the second round qualifying tie 2-1 from last week's first leg on their home turf. Mulgrew was an unused substitute in Slovakia and felt Warren Feeney's men acquitted themselves extremely well.

"We lost 2-1 yet I don't think anyone watching the game that night could have argued had we come away with a 2-2 draw," said Mulgrew.

"We will still be underdogs with them being full-time, but for me it is all to play for at Windsor.

"I think belief will be the key for us. Sometimes Irish League teams don't show enough of that in Europe and fear going into the unknown, but we showed out there that we can compete with this team and on Thursday we will be on our home ground with our fans roaring us on. There is nothing for us to fear going into this fixture.

"We have to put them under pressure at Windsor and see what they are made of. When we put them under pressure in their home game we got some joy, so we have to do the same again and see how they cope with that."

Mulgrew's views are worth listening to. A servant of Linfield for 10 years, in which he has won everything several times over at domestic level, he believes the strikeforce of Andrew Waterworth and Guy Bates could be key for the Blues.

"Guy has started well for us after signing during the summer and Andy Waterworth is always a threat so they will be big players for us on the night," said Mulgrew, deservedly awarded a testimonial by the Blues.

"Another of our new signings, David Kee, has also been very impressive in our games to date having come in from Ballinamallard."

On his own situation, Mulgrew said: "The Dundela game on Saturday was my first for 14 weeks and it felt good to be playing again.

"I was on the bench in Slovakia and I'm available for the return leg at Windsor. It is a big night for us because we want to progress in Europe."

Linfield kicked off the competition by overcoming NSI Runavik from the Faroe Islands. A win tomorrow would see them face either Lokomotiv Zagreb from Croatia or Greek side PAOK in the next round.

Belfast Telegraph


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