David Healy: Why Linfield recruit Bastien Hery will become the second most fouled player in the Irish League after Jamie Mulgrew
David Healy believes exciting new Linfield signing Bastien Hery will be a marked man in the Irish League this season but predicts the Frenchman has the character to cope with any rough treatment that comes his way.
Hery was the star turn for the Blues in their 2-0 defeat to Rosenborg at Windsor Park on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Champions League first qualifying round tie.
The 27-year-old midfielder, recruited from Waterford earlier this week, became an instant hit with the Linfield faithful courtesy of his sumptuous skills on the ball and confidence to dribble out of danger, despite Rosenborg being a class above the home side.
Healy is well aware, though, that in the cut and thrust of the domestic scene, opposition players may target the former Paris St Germain youth player.
"Good players are challenged a lot. Look at our captain, Jamie Mulgrew. Bastien now might become the second most fouled player in the Irish League after Jamie," stated Healy.
"The good thing about Bastien is he is more than comfortable taking hits and taking knocks. He can receive balls under pressure and with his back to goal and can step in and beat other players.
"It will be down to the opposition what way they want to face up to someone like Bastien. In the league this season maybe they will pay an extra bit of attention to him."
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Asked if he had been keen to bring a flair player into the Linfield midfield, Healy was quick to point out that Hery had been on their radar for over a year.
"We needed a midfielder and Bastien fitted the criteria, and he has done for the last 12 to 14 months, which is how long we have been pushing this one," said Northern Ireland's record goalscorer, who has won two league titles as Linfield manager.
"You want flair, but you also want someone who is box to box and can defend, and Bastien, whether he plays in deep midfield or in front of two midfielders, gives me and the team options for different scenarios and different games."
Another new signing, Shayne Lavery, impressed as a substitute versus Rosenborg. There will be more to come with Healy keen to snap up a goalkeeper after Roy Carroll's departure, one more forward and a player with versatility ahead of what he feels will be a demanding campaign.
"I have no doubt that Shayne will be a good asset to us with his quality and his pace and I thought he did well when he came on the other night," said Healy.
"I'm more than pleased with what we have but I know there will be another one or two coming in. The players understand that, even though we were successful last season, new players will arrive and challenge, and if those new players take their spots it is down to the boys who have been successful to show the right attitude in training and the right character in the dressing room to get an opportunity again.
"I look forward to these players coming in to give us the right balance for what will be the most talked about Danske Bank Premiership in years, with the new force to be reckoned with in Larne and the champions in previous seasons Crusaders, who will be improved from the experience of full-time football under their belt last season.
"You will also have Glentoran, who are signing players, Ballymena United will be better and Oran Kearney is back at Coleraine, plus Cliftonville with Paddy McLaughlin, so I see a top eight and it will be interesting to see who misses out on the top six.
"It will be competitive, lively and there should be big crowds there to see it.
"I give credit to NIFL for the product they have created and hopefully in the near future the league can push towards a full-time league."