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Linfield aren't in title control despite win over Cliftonville, warns Stafford

 

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High point: David Healy and Jimmy Callacher (left) celebrate Linfield’s big win over Cliftonville on Monday

High point: David Healy and Jimmy Callacher (left) celebrate Linfield’s big win over Cliftonville on Monday

�INPHO/Jonathan Porter

High point: David Healy and Jimmy Callacher (left) celebrate Linfield’s big win over Cliftonville on Monday

Linfield manager David Healy has told his players Monday night's victory at Cliftonville will count for nothing if they don't back it up with another important win against Dungannon Swifts at Windsor Park today.

After the embarrassing Irish Cup exit to Queen's earlier this month, the pressure was on Healy and his side to perform at Solitude in a league encounter screened on Sky Sports.

That they did. Healy's team selection and tactics were on the money and his players delivered a strong performance, winning 2-1 to return to the top of the table on goal difference ahead of Glentoran and Cliftonville. They also have a game in hand on both.

Experienced stars Jamie Mulgrew, Jimmy Callacher and Andrew Mitchell excelled, with Mark Stafford coming off the bench to shine at the back and score the winner.

It will be fascinating to see if Healy changes his starting XI versus struggling Dungannon. What is certain is that Northern Ireland's record goalscorer will want the type of committed display in evidence last time out.

"After the game at Cliftonville, I said to the players that the win won't mean anything if we don't go and collect three points against Dungannon," stated Healy.

"The players are well aware of that. We will prepare well and be ready for another tough game.

"Hopefully there is a bit of pride back in the club and we can kick on now."

Dungannon arrive at Windsor five points clear of bottom club Warrenpoint and with just one league win since October. In previous Premiership and cup meetings with the Blues at Stangmore Park this term, they have been hammered 4-1 and 4-0.

On the upside, Kris Lindsay's side were 3-2 victors at Institute in the Irish Cup in their previous outing.

Former Ballinamallard defender Stafford is expecting a testing afternoon.

"I remember from my time at Ballinamallard how in games like this we would come with a plan to frustrate and dig in, and I'm sure Dungannon will do the same," said Stafford.

"Dungannon have had a tough time recently in the league but they have quality players and I feel it is a difficult match for us.

"We have to be on our game and produce the same desire that we showed in the win over Cliftonville. There was a lot of pressure on us for the match at Solitude. After the Queen's defeat, everyone in the league was watching how we would react.

"We stood up to the challenge well and we have to keep doing that for the rest of the season.

"We might be top of the table but I wouldn't say we are in control of the title race. We have to keep coming up with results."

Stephen Fallon is primed to make his 100th appearance for the Blues. The midfielder has enjoyed a fabulous season in the centre of the pitch where competition is fierce at Windsor Park.

Healy has revealed that youngster Adam Carroll will be joining Warrenpoint Town on loan until the end of the season. He will join Blues players Brandon Doyle and Eamon Scannell, who are already at Milltown on loan until the climax of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Linfield's rearranged Premiership clash against Larne at Inver Park on January 28 is an all-ticket affair.

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