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European football is essential for Linfield, says Healy

Ards 0-3 Linfield

By Keith Bailie

With the Danske Bank Premiership title destined for either Crusaders or Coleraine, Linfield boss David Healy is now focused on Europa League qualification.

On Saturday, the Blues recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Ards at the Bangor Fuels Arena.

Healy said: "European qualification is essential for Linfield but it's also essential for all of the top six clubs. It is vital for us, just as it is for Glenavon, Cliftonville and Ballymena.

"European football provides a hell of a lot of money for Irish League clubs. It can make a big difference to your budget, so it's all to play for.

"We're not going to win the league, so it's important we finish as high up the league as possible and do ourselves justice in the Irish Cup.

"If the players want to play in those big Irish Cup games, they know they have to perform well in the league and you could see that against Ards."

Achille Campion tucked home a 29th minute rebound, Andy Waterworth dinked a 51st minute penalty and Stephen Lowry's 53rd minute strike found the net via the inside of the post as the Blues coasted.

Ahead of tomorrow's clash with Ballymena, Ards boss Colin Nixon said: "We will be without both David Elebert and David McAllister, as both limped off injured against Linfield. Josh Kelly is also suspended. The good news is Ross Clarke is at long last free to make his league debut, while Reece Glendinning and Cameron Stewart can also play."

ARDS: Johnston, Byers, Elebert (McAleenan, 15 mins), Taylor, Ruddy, Mitchell, L Kelly, J Kelly, Cherry (Tommons, 73 mins), McAllister (Frazer, 65 mins), Keke. Unused subs: Davidson, McLellan

Linfield: Deane, Crowe, Callacher, Stafford (Robinson, 70 mins), Quinn, Millar, Lowry, Mulgrew (Fallon, 78 mins), Byrne, Campion (Strain, 65 mins), Waterworth. Unused subs: Mitchell, Rooney.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)

Man of the match: Stephen Lowry

Match rating: 6/10

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