Belfast Telegraph

Blues must do whatever it takes to stay in title fight: Healy

Realistic: David Healy knows Linfield simply can’t afford any more slip-ups in the Premiership
Realistic: David Healy knows Linfield simply can’t afford any more slip-ups in the Premiership
Kurtis Byrne

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy has admitted he expects no favours from ailing Warrenpoint Town at the Q Radio Arena today.

Although there is a massive gulf separating the teams in the Danske Bank Premiership table - Matty Tipton's boys are 29 points adrift of their opponents - Healy got a whiff of what to expect last month when Town upturned the apple-cart by plundering a last-minute equaliser at Windsor Park.

It was one of a sequence of results that has left a huge question mark hanging over the Blues' title defence. They currently trail table-topping Crusaders by a staggering 14 points and former Northern Ireland striker Healy knows another slip will be fatal.

They did manage to salvage three crucial points with a late strike from new striker Kurtis Byrne at Carrick Rangers in midweek and it will be a similar scenario this weekend against a side fighting tooth and nail to claw their way away from the relegation mire.

"Warrenpoint are a team who attack in big numbers - they score a lot of goals and they have a right go," said Healy. "They had a right go against us three or four weeks ago at Windsor, which earned them a last-gasp draw.

"And, by all accounts, they had a right go at Cliftonville on Saturday in the Irish Cup.

"They'll certainly be taken seriously, that's for sure. They have players in the final third of the pitch that can hurt you, but it's a game we have to win.

"It's more or less the same situation as the midweek match at Carrick.

"We have to go down there and get three points at all costs. It doesn't matter how - we will need to find a way.

"We found a way against Carrick, so I'll be assuring the players it's going to be more of the same on Saturday. We'll need to find a way of getting three points.

"It might be a wonder goal, it might be a deflection, it might be a penalty or an own goal. Whatever it is, we'll need to find a way to win the game."

Healy may be reluctant to admit it, but it's certainly a long way back for Linfield in terms of making a successful title defence, even with new boys, Frenchman Achille Campion and Dubliner Byrne, on board.

"I've already gone on record stating in the event of us not winning the title, we have to finish as high up the table as possible," he said.

"Can we win it? I don't know. We are well out of it (the title race) at the minute.

"But these players are certainly capable. Hopefully, when the new boys fully settle in - it was only their second game in midweek - we can kick on.

"Their season finished in late October, early November. They are still catching up in terms of fitness levels.

"But they will benefit from the two games they have taken part in.

"Yes, it's a long way back, but it's important to pick points up at a place like Carrick.

"It will be the same again against Warrenpoint at the weekend. We just have to take one game at a time."

Byrne (above) may have scored the all important winner at Carrick, but former Cork City forward Campion certainly caught the eye too.

Healy added: "I thought he was big, I thought he was strong. He kept the ball well.

"We were certainly on the lookout for someone who was going to be a little bit different.

"Campion's performance was what you hope for when you bring a new player in.

"But it was a good team display - the lads worked their socks off from one to 11 on a really difficult night.

"We were relieved to get the three points - it was a big three points. Does it mean we are going to win the league title? Probably not. But we are now in a better position to move forward.

"Although we were running out of time, we always had hope. The pitch was poor and I don't mean to be disrespectful to Carrick, it is what it is.

"If I'm being honest, our pitch at Windsor Park wasn't much better than that at Carrick.

"We had to huff and we had to puff. We had to play longer percentage balls and hope for a break - and thankfully we got it, with no shortage of skill from young Ryan Strain, who produced a great cross for Kurtis to put away the winner."

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