Belfast Telegraph

Linfield are well prepared to trouble Norwegian champions Rosenborg, says Stewart

 

Looking ahead: Jordan Stewart can’t wait to take on Rosenborg
Looking ahead: Jordan Stewart can’t wait to take on Rosenborg

By Alex Mills

Mercurial Jordan Stewart believes Linfield will be in tip top shape for next week's Champions League clash with Rosenborg at Windsor Park.

Following a week-long training camp in Spain, which included a behind-closed-doors workout against Dinamo Bucharest, David Healy's boys stepped up their preparations for the European showdown with a tough 90-minute examination against Motherwell on Saturday.

Although the Scottish Premiership side romped home 3-0 winners - the goals were scored by Chris Long, Peter Hartley and Jake Carroll - livewire Stewart insists the Blues, who were missing a number of their big hitters, will be well prepared for the visit of the crack Norwegian side on July 10.

"I thought we were excellent in the first 45 minutes against Motherwell," he said. "We gifted them the opening goal when Mark Stafford's back pass fell short, but we all make mistakes.

"We more than matched them until we started to drop a little bit deeper. In saying that, they were not really hurting us.

"Even though we played a friendly game in Spain, it was basically our first pre-season game.

"The gaffer made loads of changes in the second half, so with players coming and going it's always difficult to get the momentum going when that happens.

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"There were a lot of positives and negatives to take from the game. Obviously, a bad pass and two set-pieces, it's criminal in many ways.

"But it's pre-season. We can't afford to go home and brood over it. I think we can take a lot of heart from the outing because we more than matched Motherwell, without really creating a great deal of chances."

Next up for Healy's men is the visit of another Scottish Premiership side, St Johnstone, managed by former Linfield and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Tommy Wright - they are due at Windsor Park on Saturday.

"Pre-season is all about building up fitness," added Stewart. "We are under no illusions how difficult it will be against Rosenborg - it will be a completely different ball game.

"They are a quality side, but it's all about getting ourselves into the best physical condition for that game now. We have St Johnstone next week and that will be another massive test for us ahead of the Rosenborg tie.

"Football is a funny game. We have to approach the game in the belief that we can get a result.

"If you don't there is no point turning up."

Stewart insists the Blues will benefit from the week-long summer camp in Marbella.

He added: "I think that trip shows the aspirations of this football club.

"We were at the same facility that Liverpool used ahead of the Champions League final.

"It was a great experience. It was also great to have a bit of team bonding with the rest of the lads. We will all benefit from it in the long run.

"Some Irish League teams have already taken the jump to full-time football.

"I think we at Linfield have the facilities, the management team and the finances in place to go down that same road eventually.

"It may take some time to implement, but I think that there are steps being taken to bridge the gulf between part-time and full-time players.

"We definitely have the quality in our squad. If we were training every day of the week, I know we would come on leaps and bounds."

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