This has to be my Cup final: Douglas
Published 26/04/2008 | 10:06
Steven Douglas will approach this afternoon's final league game of the season like it's a Cup final.
That's because when Linfield actually play in a Cup final next Saturday he won't be in the team.
Douglas' suspension from the Irish Cup decider against Coleraine was confirmed yesterday afternoon by the Irish FA and now he is focusing on finishing at least one game by lifting a trophy.
A single point away to Crusaders will be enough to confirm Linfield as champions for the third season in a row - their sixth in the last nine years - and even if they lose an amazing twist of events needs to occur for Glentoran to take the trophy away from them.
"I am gutted to be missing the Irish Cup final. Absolutely gutted," said Douglas, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Glentoran a fortnight ago.
"I knew in my mind that I was only one more booking away from a suspension, but you can't let that affect your game, you can't hold back once you are on the pitch."
Douglas would have been certain to play against Coleraine with his rival for the right-back spot, Jim Ervin, out until Christmas after undergoing knee surgery on Wednesday.
The pair have battled it out for the position over the last two seasons, since Douglas missed almost all of that Grand Slam campaign due to Ervin's impressive form.
"I missed the 2006 Irish Cup final altogether and then last season I didn't get off the bench," said Douglas.
"It has been a good battle between myself and Jim over the last couple of seasons and we've more or less played the same number of matches.
"This season I played almost all the way through until I had a bad game on Boxing Day and didn't kick a ball for nine weeks.
"That the way things are at Linfield, one bad game can cost you and Jim and I enjoy the competition because it keeps us on our toes."
And Douglas will today get his hands on a second Irish League winners medal with the Blues having missed out on another two.
"I missed most of my first season with Linfield through injury and didn't get a medal," he said.
"Jim Ervin played at right-back all through the Grand Slam season so I didn't get one then either.
"This is my second in a row and in all I should have five after winning the league before with Portadown.
"We can't just turn up though, we have a good record at Seaview, but it is still a hard place to go.
"We have to make sure that there is no big dip in performance that could maybe cost us the league."