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Aaron Burns fired up for Linfield's title shot

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Aaron Burns says Linfield can smell Gibson Cup glory

Aaron Burns says Linfield can smell Gibson Cup glory

Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

Aaron Burns says Linfield can smell Gibson Cup glory

Aaron Burns has turned up the heat on title rivals Cliftonville by saying he believes the Blues are on the brink of wrestling back the Gibson Cup.

With only three games remaining, only a point separates the champions and Linfield at the top of the table.

Tommy Breslin's charges are clinging to their one point lead in the full knowledge there could be another sting in the tail.

The Reds play their final home game at Solitude tomorrow when they take on Irish Cup finalists Glenavon.

That test is followed by two tricky away fixtures at Portadown on Easter Tuesday and Crusaders next Saturday.

But Linfield also have tough hurdles to overcome as David Jeffrey's side host Portadown tomorrow and the mid-Ulster men are chasing European qualification.

Then it's a Big Two clash with Glentoran at Windsor Park on Tuesday followed by a trip to Glenavon for their final fixture.

Last season, Cliftonville cantered towards the finishing line with all the swagger of the meanest gunslinger in town but this time the tension is almost unbearable.

The Blues are putting up a fight and after winning a bruising battle at Crusaders last weekend there is belief again in the camp after that devastating loss to the Reds.

Midfielder Burns, who was on target against the Hatchetmen, says there's a quiet confidence at Windsor Park that the league title can be won.

"I think the belief has always been there in the team since back in July when the squad came together," said Burns.

"Now I think from this point we have to believe we can win it. We are still very much in the hunt and there's always the chance that Cliftonville slip up and let us in.

"I've really enjoyed being back at Linfield but of course I desperately want a league winner's medal to give me something extra to be proud of.

"This club's success is measured on it's league record and if we cannot win the title, we will have failed in my eyes.

"But we are in a great position now and yes, I think we can win the title.

"The team is showing self-belief and a real determination to finish on top.

"The pressure is all on Cliftonville as they are the champions and need to hang onto that lead.

"There was always the feeling that the title race would go to the wire but the management have been great with us and I'm not seeing any signs of nerves.

"In fact, with David (Jeffrey) deciding to step down at the end of the season there has been a desire to see him go out on a high by winning the title for him."

Burns will take on his old club Portadown tomorrow knowing that the Blues will need to reproduce the fighting spirit they displayed against Crusaders last weekend.

The home side will be without the suspended Jamie Mulgrew and injured Niall Quinn.

"It was a fantastic result against Crusaders," added Burns.

"It was a brilliant match and I felt we deserved the win.

"We played the better football and we knew we needed to produce a top performance given our record against Crusaders in recent seasons.

"It was also a game we could not afford to lose, so by getting the result it's a statement that we want to take the title race to the last game.

"There was a lot of talk afterwards about Crusaders players saying they would lie down against Cliftonville on the last day but I'm not concerned with any of that.

"What matters is that we do our jobs."

Burns is just one of several Linfield players coming out of contract at the end of the season and his future will not be resolved until the new manager is installed.

But the midfielder will always be grateful to Jeffrey, who brought him back to Windsor from the Ports.

"I've really enjoyed it this season," he added.

"There's always a few nerves when you come back but the boys and David have been brilliant.

"You just want to play in matches and hopefully score a few goals.

"Thankfully I have managed to do that.

"A league winner's medal would now top everything off for me. When you get this close you hope you can get there but we know there's hard work still to be done."

Belfast Telegraph