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Ahmed Salam is ready to meet Linfield challenge after leading win over Glenavon

Glenavon 0 Linfield 3

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Midfield battle: Linfield’s Ahmed Salam and Glenavon’s Sean Ward fight for possession. Credit: David Maginnis

Midfield battle: Linfield’s Ahmed Salam and Glenavon’s Sean Ward fight for possession. Credit: David Maginnis

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Christy Manzinga celebrates with Jordan Stewart, Ahmed Salam, Kirk Millar and Stephen Fallon. Credit: David Maginnis

Christy Manzinga celebrates with Jordan Stewart, Ahmed Salam, Kirk Millar and Stephen Fallon. Credit: David Maginnis

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Midfield battle: Linfield’s Ahmed Salam and Glenavon’s Sean Ward fight for possession. Credit: David Maginnis

Midfielder Ahmed Salam admitted he required little persuasion from his Hull City manager Grant McCann when the opportunity to join Linfield became a reality back in July.

It may have taken the 21-year-old time to adapt to the demands of the Danske Bank Premiership, but he is now emerging as a key component in David Healy’s Blues’ juggernaut as they chase down their fourth successive League title success.

Salam turned in another five-star showing in Saturday night’s demolition of Glenavon at Mourneview Park – a result that nudged the Blues up to third place in the table.

Christy Manzinga hit a glorious double, with Salam bagging his third goal – in 17 outings – since arriving on loan from Hull City in the summer.

He was part of a double deal that included striker Billy Chadwick, who had to return to England last week after sustaining a cruciate ligament injury.

“Grant knows all about Linfield... he explained to us it’s the biggest club in the country,” said Salam.

“He played for the Blues for a short time and had nothing but good to say about the club and the supporters.

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“He also told us of the high expectation levels the club and the supporters demand, so we knew what we were coming over to, but I’m enjoying the challenge.

“I’m gutted for Billy. He has been with me every step of the way over here. I wish him all the best in his recovery... I know he will come back stronger. It’s just one of those things that happen in football.

“Billy was a bit like myself... it took him a bit of time to get up to speed and was starting to show his best form and score a few goals.”

Salam believes there is still a lot to come from himself and the team.

“I’ve worked hard in training... I now feel fit, and I feel confident, and I think it’s beginning to show in my performances,” he added.

“I know I need to do everything I can to stay in the team, so I have to keep up the high standards on the training ground and on the pitch. I think it would be fair to say that I’ve grown into the side.

“It took me a bit of time to adapt to the Irish League when I came over, which is not surprising. I now feel I’m doing quite well. I know what I need to do and what it takes to play in this team.

"I was thrilled to get our third goal. After Christy’s double, it really put the game to bed, and we just had to see out the game.”

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton admitted his boys were blown away in the first-half – and it was nothing to do with Storm Arwen.

“Linfield have been league champions under David Healy for the past three years and they’ll again be the team to beat... they totally overran us in the first-half,” he said.

“Their confidence was sky high, and I suppose the score could have been more only for James (Taylor), I thought he was excellent.

“Sometimes you have got up hold up your hand and say we were up against a team that was better than us.

“They really showed their class... they are a top side. Their movement and inter-changing between Millar, Stewart and Salam was just too much for us.”

GLENAVON: Taylor, Stafford, A Doyle, O’Connor, Campbell, Hall (Beggs 78), Fitzpatrick, Wallace, J Doyle (O’Mahony 46 (Waterworth 61)), Garrett (Snoddy 46), Ward.

Unused subs: Brown, Birney, Harmon.

LINFIELD: Walsh, Byrne, Shields, Callacher, Millar (A Clarke 87), Hume, Manzinga (Green 82), Stewart (Carroll 87), M Clarke, Fallon (McClean 82), Salam (Donnelly 78).

Unused subs: Ruddy, Newberry.

Referee: Tony Clarke (Belfast)

Man of the match: Kirk Millar

Match rating: 7/10


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