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Linfield taking nothing for granted, maintains Healy

HB Torshavn v Linfield, Europa League Qualifying Round Two: Gundadalur Stadium, Today,4.45pm

Big milestone: Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew, making his 550th Blues appearance, takes on Rosenborg’s Birger Meling
Big milestone: Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew, making his 550th Blues appearance, takes on Rosenborg’s Birger Meling
David Healy

By Steven Beacom

Linfield manager David Healy has vowed not to underestimate HB Torshavn in today's Europa League clash in the Faroe Islands (4.45pm) even though the Blues will enter the tie as big favourites.

After losing to Rosenborg in the Champions League last week to set up this second qualifying round encounter, the first thing Healy did was to warn his players about the dangers of taking the opposition for granted.

He was part of the Northern Ireland squad in 2010 that only drew 1-1 away to the Faroes in a Euro qualifier so knows that trips to this North Atlantic island don't always work out as planned even if Irish League clubs, including Linfield, have enjoyed themselves in recent years.

This season Crusaders and Ballymena United have both been strong enough to defeat teams from the Faroe Islands in the Europa League while the Blues have won four out of four ties against sides from a nation with a population of around 50,000 people.

All that is irrelevant to Healy, whose game plan will be return home for next week's second leg at Windsor Park with a real chance of progressing.

"It will be tough. People may be looking at this game on paper thinking we are only playing a team from the Faroe Islands but I'm certainly not doing that," said Northern Ireland's record goalscorer.

"I warned the players straight after the Rosenborg game in Norway last week that we won't be going into this match underestimating the opposition.

"We know it will be difficult but hopefully we can create more opportunities than we did against Rosenborg and take a good result back to Windsor."

For the Irish League champions it was always going to be a bridge too far against Rosenborg, who have ambitions of making it to the group stages of the Champions League and are in the middle of their domestic season.

The Blues lost 2-0 at home and 4-0 away but Healy feels there were positives to come out of the tie, such as young defender Ross Larkin's debut and more game time for fellow new signings Shayne Lavery and Bastien Hery.

"I thought we had an improved performance in the second leg despite the scoreline and felt the players matched Rosenborg for long periods," said Healy.

"What was disappointing was to concede a couple of sloppy goals but maybe a little bit of tiredness kicked in for the last 20 minutes.

"There were positives to take from the tie though and now we will be looking for more improvements this time. It is a different challenge for us but we are prepared for it."

After arriving via a chartered flight yesterday, Linfield trained at Gundadalur Stadium.

In Rosenborg, skipper Jamie Mulgrew played his 550th game for the club. Tonight, Jimmy Callacher makes a landmark appearance - match No.200 with the Blues.

After winning their league title last season, HB Torshavn have struggled to defend the crown and lie fifth in the Premier Division table.

Despite that they fancy this clash with Healy's men and feel they can overcome what has very much become an Irish League hoodoo for Faroe Islands clubs.

The winners of the tie between Linfield and HB Torshavn will take on the loser from FK Sutjeska (Montenegro) versus Apoel Nicosia from Cyprus.

First things first though, the Windsor Park men have a job to do against HB Torshavn.

Belfast Telegraph


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