| 2.4°C Belfast

Healy challenges Blues to prove they have the bottle to emerge on top of five-way battle for title glory



Lead role: David Healy’s side are four points clear at the top

Lead role: David Healy’s side are four points clear at the top

�INPHO/Matt Mackey

Lead role: David Healy’s side are four points clear at the top

Linfield manager David Healy insists character will be crucial in the run-in for Danske Bank Premiership glory.

The Blues moved four points clear at the top of the table last weekend thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win at Warrenpoint Town but, with 10 games left, Healy knows his side cannot afford to rest on their laurels with title rivals Coleraine, Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville all ready to pounce on any slip.

Just six points separate the top five sides in what has become a thrilling chase to clinch the Gibson Cup.

Ahead of tomorrow's crucial league game at Ballymena, Healy said: "Character is going to be important in this title race.

"People discuss Linfield more than anyone about how we are doing, how we are performing and if we lose a game.

"I've heard it said we have had a really disappointing and inconsistent season, but we are in a reasonable position at present.

"Yes, we have lost games, but the standard and quality of the other teams has improved so that will happen. Of course you don't want it to happen but it does. Psychologically, it is vital in this period that if you don't play as well as you can that you still end up winning games.

"We have done that in previous campaigns and if we can do that for the next 10 games, who knows where we will end up at the finish?"

Linfield will enter the clash at the Showgrounds determined to collect another victory. They will be favourites to do so given Ballymena's dreadful run of league form.

David Jeffrey's men lost at home to Carrick Rangers last weekend, leading to a lengthy post match dressing room inquest.

Ballymena may be in the Irish Cup quarter-finals and were unfortunate to lose the County Antrim Shield decider to Cliftonville, but this has been a disappointing Premiership campaign.

After pushing Linfield all the way last term and finishing runners-up, they are ninth this time around, just three points above Dungannon in 10th.

"I would imagine David (Jeffrey) will be looking for a response from his players as I have done this season after a defeat," stated Healy.

"We will be wary of that and will go to Ballymena looking forward to the challenge.

"I have lost a few games there and they were our main challengers last season for the title so we know how difficult it can be.

"On their day, they are probably as good as anyone in the league."

• Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray has strengthened his squad with the signing of goalkeeper Gabriel Sava.

Sava, who started his career at Lazio before taking in spells at Drogheda United, Dundalk and Bray Wanderers, will aim to help the club avoid relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership.

Warrenpoint goalkeeper Mark Byrne's future remains uncertain following his physical altercation with fans during the club's Irish Cup sixth-round tie against Ballymena United.

The Irish FA's Disciplinary Committee met to discuss the matter last night and will report their findings to the clubs today.

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph