Belfast Telegraph

Blues have bottle to blow title race wide open, insists Healy

 

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy believes his boys have the nerve to get back on the title track after their difficult run.

The Danske Bank Premiership champions at last demonstrated they were up for a title fight in Saturday's win over Coleraine at Windsor Park - the first time the Bannsiders had lost in the current league campaign.

Following a horrible run of results, in which they won only three times in 10 outings, the Blues upped their rehabilitation process with a performance of grit, passion and commitment with a fair sprinkling of skill thrown in for good measure.

But they will again have their Premiership crown scrutinised tonight when they make the trip to Mourneview Park to face Gary Hamilton's high-flying Glenavon, who are hot on the heels of Coleraine, only four points adrift.

Healy insists his boys will not shirk the challenge - he knows that victory would fire his team right back into the mix.

"Glenavon are very much like Coleraine last week... they go into the game on the crest of a wave," said Northern Ireland's record international goalscorer.

"They haven't lost in the league for some time.

"But I know our capabilities - we are more than a match for any team in the country.

"The bottom line is we are still playing catch-up, so the pressure is off us in many ways.

"It will be interesting to see how the top teams handle it.

"Crusaders have been there and done it, Cliftonville have been there and done it a few years earlier and we came from behind last season to do it. There is a long way to go.

"The pressure is on Coleraine and Glenavon. Can they sustain their challenge? Have they big enough squads to sustain it? I know deep down that we are certainly capable.

"It's been a tough few weeks for us and we now go into another massive game, which I'm sure will attract a bumper crowd.

"We are still slowly but surely regaining confidence. We can draw huge belief from last week's result, so hopefully we can build on that," the Linfield boss added.

Although the Blues have picked up only nine points from a possible 21, Healy reckons he doesn't pay much heed to the table at this stage of the season.

"We were written off last season and have already been written off in terms of the current title race," he added.

"We've good players. They probably lost a little bit of confidence, that's what happens when you are on a poor run, but they'll gain a lot from last weekend's win so hopefully we can now kick on. We've had all sorts of questions asked of us. Do the players lack confidence? Do they not want to play here?

"I not only have a sparkle in my eye every time we win, but I have a sparkle in my eye every time I come into work. I feel privileged and honoured to be manager of this great club. I know the players can do it - I have huge belief in them."

Although he lost out in the race to sign striker Davy McDaid, Healy is expected to add a few new faces when the transfer window opens in January.

"Sometimes you have to try and push early to get the right type of player, so it's a bit frustrating when they choose another club," he said.

"I'll keep trying and keep pushing, so hopefully we'll have some fresh blood in when the window opens."

• LINFIELD'S clash with Coleraine at The Showgrounds has been moved forward to New Year's Day and will kick off at 3pm.

Glenavon vs Linfield

Danske Bank Premiership

Mourneview Park, Tonight, 8pm

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