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Coleraine willl win but title is Linfield’s, says Stephen Carson

Stephen Carson has targeted tonight’s game against Linfield as the perfect match to kickstart the Bannsiders’ season — but he is backing Linfield to taste title glory again.

The Carling Premiership big guns, including Glentoran and Cliftonville, will chase the champions all the way to the finishing line but the Northern Ireland international insists they will end up also-rans.

While David Jeffrey’s side have returned to winning ways after a stuttering start to the campaign, Coleraine have yet to win or score a goal in three outings.

Last season’s heroics, when Rory Patterson was scoring for fun and the north-west side made it to the final of the Co-operative Insurance Cup are becoming a fading memory.

But Carson has enough experience in the game to know that you have to roll up your sleeves in the difficult times and he believes the Showgrounds side can turn the corner.

“It’s been a very disappointing start but we have to turn it round sooner rather than later and where better than at Windsor Park,” said Carson.

“Players have just not been performing. We have a strong squad on paper but players are not playing to their potential.

“We’re all behind the manager (David Platt) and many of us have played for him for years.

“We played in the reserves for him and we have a lot of respect for him.

“People say you don’t want to go to Windsor on the back of three defeats but it’s a place where you need to produce an honest performance and stand up and be counted.

“It’s a great challenge for any team going up against the most professional team in the country — the team to beat.

“They are the best and that means you have to play at your maximum or be embarrassed.

“Our pride is on the line at Windsor and you never want to let people down. But talk is cheap and our form has been poor.”

Despite Linfield failing to hit top gear in their early season fixtures, Carson believes that it’s only a matter of time before they flex their championship-winning muscles.

“I think they had a very good performance against Rosenborg and sometimes that can take it out of you,” added Carson. “You put so much effort in and then it’s difficult to get your levels back but I haven’t seen the Blues play.

“It’ll not be long before Linfield are firing again and they remain my favourites for the title. You don’t have to be a genius to make that prediction — they have the strongest squad and it was proven last season.

“At Christmas time I felt we had a real chance but Linfield have two quality players for every position and a manager who motivates them well. They are a good, young hungry team that will win the league again.”

Belfast Telegraph