Dickson not down and out at Blues
Mark Dickson is struggling to pin down a regular starting slot in the Linfield side but he insists that's the reality of life at Windsor Park.
And after Christmas the former Larne player's battle to get into the Blues' starting eleven could be even tougher as Conor Downey and Oran Kearney are well down the road to recovery from serious injuries.
Jeffrey has asked Dickson to perform a right midfield role this season but the 27-year-old has also become familiar with the bench.
On Tuesday night he was an unused substitute while his team-mates cruised to the top of the table after a 4-0 thrashing of Coleraine.
However, the former Northampton Town man is happy to work hard in training and seize any chance he gets to impress manager David Jeffrey.
"I've been in and out of the team and it has been a bit frustrating but that will happen if you are at a club like Linfield," said Dickson.
"Such is the quality of player at the club that you cannot expect to play in every game. I have been at Linfield long enough to know that is the case. You have to earn your place in the team and then when you are picked to play you have to earn the right to stay in the team. If I get a chance to impress it's up to me to take it. I think I have made around 18 appearances this season but the manager needs a big squad, particularly with the Setanta Cup and Irish Cup coming up."
Jeffrey will have to shuffle his pack at Institute today with Tim McCann coming in for Damien Curran who has an ankle injury.
Glentoran and Cliftonville remain hot on the heels of the champions in a thrilling title race and Dickson isn't surprised by the menacing form displayed by the chasing pack.
"Both those teams strengthened in the summer so we knew they would put up a real challenge," he added. "I'm not surprised they are both undefeated in the league. Cliftonville chased us all the way last season only to lose a little momentum in the closing stages.
"We are facing another tricky test on the road this weekend but we will prepare properly for the game and we know the importance of picking up maximum points. Stute are keen to impress back in the Premier League and they will be up for the game but we already know all the teams will fight for every point available. They have their own objective but we have ours and that is to retain the title we won."
Jeffrey is encouraged by the latest fitness news on Kearney and Downey.
"They're certainly pushing on and I would hope that around Christmas we'll have both available again," he said.
Institute defender Eamon Seydak will miss today's game because of suspension but David Kee returns after serving a ban.
DUE to major construction work on the former terracing at Shamrock Park, Linfield will only be allocated 900 seating tickets for the clash with Portadown on Saturday, January 19.
Tickets will go on sale initially to Linfield members, then Linfield season ticket holders and then, depending on availability, to Linfield Club Card holders.
Supporters clubs who may wish to book buses for this fixture are warned that it is unlikely there would be any general sale of tickets for the game.