Belfast Telegraph

League title is still within our grasp, says Stewart

By Graham Luney

Linfield winger Jordan Stewart has warned their title rivals he's still confident the Blues will be crowned league champions again next year.

David Healy's side have fallen 12 points behind Danske Bank Premiership leaders Coleraine but they have played two games less than the Bannsiders.

They go into the home clash against Warrenpoint Town this afternoon after netting three league wins on the bounce - including that vital 2-1 victory at home to the pacesetters.

After this weekend's test, the champions take on Cliftonville, Glentoran, Crusaders and Coleraine in what is a make or break period regarding their championship hopes.

Crusaders, Glenavon and Cliftonville are also above the Blues in the table while the Bannsiders' defeat to Linfield was their solitary Premiership loss this season.

There's no sign of Oran Kearney's men taking their foot off the gas but former Glentoran hero Stewart feels his side are moving in the right direction and they certainly won't give up the title without a fight.

"We have the utmost confidence in ourselves and I believe we can still win the league title," said the 22-year-old.

"What is the point of playing the games then? Am I going to say the title is gone?

"No chance, I genuinely believe we can still win the league, especially after the way we have ground out results in the last few weeks.

"The lads are fighting for each other and you need to do that when you aren't playing your best football.

"You grind out results and performances will improve.

"We play Cliftonville, Glentoran, Crusaders and Coleraine within a few weeks and it's four massive games.

"It could make or break our season and everyone is aware of that.

"People are looking at Coleraine and waiting for them to slip us and looking at us to see if we fall further behind.

"We are training very hard and will keep plugging away."

Windsor Park supremo Healy knows his players can't afford to fall further behind over the busy Christmas period and he will stress the importance of landing blows on title rivals in the coming days.

"David is ruthless and he needs to be," added Stewart.

"He's really good with the boys and he will give you a day off training but he takes no nonsense. It's a professionally run club.

"I'm enjoying it but hopefully I can contribute more on the pitch.

"I hope the fans don't think it's a lack of effort because I give it my all when I'm playing. I just haven't produced consistent performances and you always put added pressure on yourself to do well and score goals. I'm buzzing when we get three points. I hate losing."

Stewart's professional dream turned into a nightmare when he left Glentoran and attempted to carve out a career at Swindon Town.

He failed to settle in England and a bad knee injury brought the curtain down on that frustrating chapter of his career.

Healy moved swiftly to snap up the former Northern Ireland Under-21 international, handing him a three-year deal but the disappointment of failing to see his full-time career take off still lingers.

"I'm doing coaching on a voluntary basis with Burns Soccer School as I struggle to motivate myself after coming home and not making it in full-time football, then being injured," he added.

"Now I'm training every day and the management allow us to do that. Hopefully I can rediscover my best form. Football is my life."

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