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Jeffrey's hunt for new blood gets under way

DAVID Jeffrey has already started working on wiping out the frustration of Linfield's failed attempt to win a fourth successive Premiership title.

And the Windsor Park boss is ready to cast his net far and wide in order to ensure that the Blues aren't starved of silverware for any more than one season.

The hunt for players to beef up a squad that was ravaged by injury this season, before those problems were compounded by the unexpected departures of Daryl Fordyce and Albert Watson to Canada, has begun in earnest and that search will be wide ranging.

"We are very much looking at every aspect of the squad ahead of going about winning the title back next season," said Jeffrey.

"That involves looking at players who are under contract, those who are coming out of contract and what we can do to improve the squad.

"We need to examine everything we do and decide are there possibilities down south, in England or Scotland that would benefit us.

"In terms of what we have to do to be better next season, we are already working very hard to ensure that is the case."

Last week's cancellation of all football in Northern Ireland meant Jeffrey having almost two weeks to reflect on the defeat to Crusaders that finally ended the Blues mathematical interest in the league title.

And it's been a painful time for the manager after winning six doubles in the last seven seasons.

"Over the last couple of weeks I have been most frustrated and it's a long time since I have experienced such emotions and feelings," said Jeffrey.

"I've felt disappointed and at times angry too, yet I've also tried to put some analysis on things.

"It is difficult for me and while I accept that we can't be successful every year, the level that we have attained this season hasn't been up to our usual standards and it's been hard to take.

"There is no doubt that injuries have played a massive part in our season, as have suspensions. There is also no doubt that refereeing decisions have gone against us in a way that they never have before.

"There is also no doubt that we haven't played as consistently well as we would expect players of the ability that we have to do.

"You can analyse things until you are blue in the face. We had meetings after meetings, there was call to arms once or twice, but the simple thing is we just had a bad season."

There will, however, be no kneejerk reaction from Jeffrey – for a start he's been around too long for that to be the case.

Instead he will look back on a period of the season in which his team proved their credentials, but by that stage champions elect Cliftonville were too far ahead to catch.

"Before we lost at Crusaders we were unbeaten in 16 games and in any other season that would have been championship form," said Jeffrey.

"What do we do now? Do we draw a line under it and wish the season to end tomorrow?

"No. We have six games to go and they will be analysed to the nth degree.

"Ultimately there has to be a reaction and there has to be a response and that's the challenge for these players."

Belfast Telegraph