Belfast Telegraph

Bring it on: Healy throws out a challenge to Blues title rivals

Linfield manager David Healy
Linfield manager David Healy

By Graham Luney

Linfield manager David Healy has warned their title rivals that the Blues will be even meaner and stronger this season.

The Blues start the defence of their Danske Bank Premiership title at home to Institute today with real momentum after a 2-1 win against FK Sutjeska in Montenegro in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie.

Finish the job on Tuesday night at Windsor and the Blues will be one play-off tie away from group stage action that will net them around £4m.

But domestic commitments are their sole focus this afternoon and after clinching their 53rd league championship with three games to spare in April, Healy's men are raring to go again.

The Blues supremo, who has welcomed on board Shayne Lavery, Bastien Hery, Ross Larkin and keeper Rohan Ferguson, has issued a 'catch us if you can' cry to his rivals.

"I always say to the players that Linfield traditionally have set the benchmarks and the standards for Irish League teams," said Healy.

"I know coming to watch Linfield when I was young that no matter how successful the team is there will be people who can go back and talk about teams who were even more successful so the demands are always here. It is up to us to constantly step up to the plate and live with those demands.

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"With the demands at Linfield, whether we are league champions or not, everyone wants to come and beat us.

"That will never change. We welcome the challenge and we relish the challenge.

"The players stood up to the challenge last season.

"We need to make sure we not only stick to the standards that we have set but also raise the bar."

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