We must win the lot, says Linfield's Andy Waterworth
Andy Waterworth believes Linfield will have to win all their remaining Danske Bank Premiership clashes to have a realistic chance of clinching the title.
The Gibson Cup race got a lot more interesting this week after Carrick Rangers' 4-3 win over league leaders Crusaders on Tuesday night.
Linfield go into tonight's home battle with Ballinamallard United (8pm) with a spring in their step knowing the Shore Road side's lead is only five points and both sides have seven games remaining.
But striker Waterworth, who is on a mission to net his 30th goal of the season before his 30th birthday, says the Blues cannot afford to cast off a must-win mentality for every game.
"I'm of the opinion we might have to win all the league games," said the former Glentoran favourite. "We are having to adopt a must-win mentality for every match because if we lose that focus and concentration and let points slip then it lets Crusaders cruise to the title.
"It's important that we don't look ahead and concentrate on each game because at this stage of the season teams are fighting for all sorts of reasons from survival to chasing European places.
"Nothing less than three points in every match is acceptable. Can we win all our remaining matches? It's a tough task but it is achievable.
"It's fantastic that we have been able to raise the bar but we are at Linfield and that is expected from us. We will be judged at the end of the season on our achievements in the league and Irish Cup."
The former Hamilton man reaches the 30-year milestone on April 11 but he's never before hit the goalscoring mark. That could all change as early as tonight with 29 his current tally but Waterworth's personal target is well down the priority list as the Blues refuse to let go of Crusaders' coat-tails in the title race.
"It would be nice to hit the 30 mark for the first time," he added. "It's a small added incentive for me but everyone has been pulling together regarding what we want to achieve collectively.
"The players have been hurting - we know we let ourselves down earlier in the season while off the pitch we have the right management, coaches, medical and support staff to make sure we are in good shape.
"We haven't rested on our laurels and the young players that are progressing like Paul Smyth leaves us very optimistic about the future.
"Windsor Park has been transformed into a world class stadium and when I ran out as captain against Glentoran I thought 'this is amazing' and I'm sure many players would want to come and be part of this set-up."