Larne will keep improving, warns Linfield boss David Healy
Linfield boss David Healy admits he is savouring the opportunity to see the Larne rebuilding process at first hand - albeit belatedly.
The east Antrim side's visit to Windsor Park this Saturday will be the first meeting between the sides since Larne's promotion after their scheduled fixture in September was postponed due to international call-ups for Linfield players, and a new date has yet to be set.
"Everybody has been talking about Larne for the past couple of years so finally we'll get an opportunity to play them in the top division," said Healy.
"When I came back to this country and became Linfield manager, we played Larne down there in a cup tie and there were about 40 supporters, the old pitch at Inver Park was still there and whatever else, so everyone at Larne deserves great credit for the enormity of the job that has taken place to rebuild the club.
"I've been on record numerous times to say how good it is.
"It's a game I'm looking forward to. Kenny Bruce, Gareth Clements, Tiernan Lynch and Tim McCann have done wonderful jobs down there.
"They have good players and they have a huge amount of experience in their ranks.
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"I know people have been giving them a little bit of time to adapt to the top level, although with the quality of players they have, I'm slightly surprised at where they are in the table.
"They will keep improving once the players adapt because they have good, experienced players for this division and Larne are certainly only going in one direction."
The former Northern Ireland international striker says he is happy with the Blues remaining somewhat under the radar right now after their midweek victory away to Ballymena United moved them to within five points of pacesetters Coleraine and Cliftonville.
Linfield still have two games in hand over both those sides as they attempt to clear the backlog of matches brought about by their European heroics earlier in the season.
"It was crucial that we won at Ballymena when the other top teams weren't playing, so it was important we took care of our own jobs. But again, when you look at the table, we're still playing catch-up and there is still a huge, huge amount of work to be done.
"Other teams are running away with it at the top of the table and they keep winning games, so we're chasing shadows at the minute, but we'll keep doing our job," added Healy.