Belfast Telegraph

Blues will go to Seaview with belief and confidence: Quinn

Linfield's Niall Quinn
Linfield's Niall Quinn

By Graham Luney

Niall Quinn believes the Linfield juggernaut will take some stopping at Seaview on Friday night.

The Dankse Bank Premiership champions are moving through the gears with ease and it's full steam ahead after thrashing Glenavon 7-0 at Windsor Park.

Stephen Baxter's men are also in fine goalscoring form after sweeping Glentoran aside 5-2 but the rest of the league is sitting up and taking notice as the Blues go on the charge.

Although the Crues sit at the top of the table, Linfield are seven points behind and have three games in hand over their title rivals. The feared European hangover has been well and truly cast aside as David Healy's men demonstrate real hunger and a ruthless streak.

It should be another classic between the Belfast rivals in front of the BBC cameras but Quinn, who has played more than 250 games for the Blues, believes the champions can make another big statement on the Shore Road.

"I think we played good football against Carrick and Glenavon so everyone is upbeat going into the tough game at Crusaders," said the defender.

"The boys know what to expect at Crusaders, it will be a physical game but it's a crucial time for us and we have games in hand we want to win. We are taking it a game at a time and that philosophy is working.

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"I don't think we played well in the games against Cliftonville and Glentoran but we got the result we wanted and that's a positive. The boys are used to the pressure that comes with playing for Linfield but since the European run we have settled back into the Irish League where you don't get more time on the ball.

"It can sometimes be murder ball in the Irish League but we are on a good run at the moment.

"There's a good mixture of youth and experience in the team and we have had a good spine for a few seasons. David has added real quality in the summer and Shayne Lavery's international call up was testimony to his talent. Bastien Hery has been a breath of fresh air too and the boys have settled in well, hopefully the team will keep reaping the rewards of that."

Glengormley man Quinn accepts the Crues will be formidable title rivals this season but he's wary of other sides too.

"I think it's a wide open title race again but I would expect Crusaders to be challenging after a poor league campaign, by their standards, last time," added the 26-year-old.

"But you have the likes of Ballymena United who pushed us all the way last season and Coleraine who have beaten both ourselves and the Crues. I don't think anyone can be ruled out, while sides like Glentoran and Larne have benefited from investment. We are focusing on ourselves and what we need to do. The win over Glenavon was pleasing because we knew how strong they are, they beat Ballymena United and ran Crusaders close.

"Looking back at the European games, I think the match against Sutjeska surprised a lot of people. Going into the Qarabag game, we perhaps caught them off guard. It gave the boys belief that we do have real quality in the squad."

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