Belfast Telegraph

Our team spirit will help us put up fierce battle, says Mitchell

By Graham Luney

Andrew Mitchell believes Linfield's team spirit and togetherness will help them weather a Celtic storm at Windsor Park. Brendan Rodgers' classy side will be at Windsor Park tomorrow (5pm) for the first leg of a Champions League second qualifying round showdown, and the Blues players are braced for the toughest challenge of their careers.

The Scottish champions are expected to flex their muscles at the home of Linfield, but David Healy and his men have shown that they relish the big occasion.

Former Northern Ireland Under-21 international Mitchell, who played eight first-team games during his three-and-a-half-year spell at Rangers, is a fresh face in the Blues' ranks after making a summer switch from Crusaders, but he has been educated swiftly on the camaraderie evident in the champions' dressing room.

Linfield dug deep last season to grasp the league title, Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield, and that willingness to fight for one another will be crucial in the scraps with Celtic.

"There are some big characters in that dressing room, experienced players like Jamie Mulgrew and Roy Carroll who know how to win. Everyone is full of hunger and wants to fight for the club," said Mitchell.

"There's a strong bond in the team and they are all good lads, there is that camaraderie and team spirit which is getting results.

"I'm pleased to join a massive club with the best supporters in the league. David as manager was another huge factor, he knows my game from Rangers and I want to do well for him and contribute to the team.

"I know the gaffer from my time at Rangers and I have always viewed him as a winner as a player or manager. When Crusaders won the league, Linfield pushed us all the way and now David has got the best out of his players.

"His record as a player speaks for itself but now it is exciting to be part of one of his teams. I've a lot to thank him for and the way he conducts himself has left a big impression on me. He's shown faith in me and that's to be repaid."

Mitchell who agreed a three-year deal with the Blues, is inspired by the Windsor Park faithful who will be out in force.

"The Linfield fans come out and support us in big numbers so hopefully we can deliver for them," he added. "They came to Wales to watch us play Bala Town and I'm sure they'll come to Glasgow in big numbers. It would be nice to repay them with two good performances against Celtic. It's a huge task but one the players will relish.

"It was important we did a professional job in San Marino as they are the champions of their country and deserved respect.

"People wrote them off but we knew it would be a difficult game and you still have to beat a team determined to get through.

"I was pleased for Jordan (Stewart) to get the winner at Windsor and he can reflect on scoring a very important goal for the club. He came off the bench and made a big impact which is what the boys must do."

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