Belfast Telegraph

Linfield boss Healy is expecting an Ards backlash

 

By Graham Luney

Linfield manager David Healy has warned his players not to expect an easy ride away to Ards tonight in the Danske Bank Premiership even though Colin Nixon's men were hammered on the opening weekend of the season.

Ards would have been pleased to score three times at Cliftonville in their first league game of the campaign, but conceding SIX would have been difficult to accept for Nixon, one of local football's most celebrated defenders from his successful days as a Glentoran right-back.

While Ards were being beaten by a tennis score, Linfield were running out comfortable 2-0 winners against Carrick Rangers at Windsor Park.

Healy suggests that this evening's trip to the Bangor Fuels Arena may prove a tougher task.

"They'll be coming off the back of a disappointing result against Cliftonville and will be looking to bounce back," said Northern Ireland's record goalscorer, who led the Blues to treble glory last term.

"It's a tight little pitch, it's 4G.

"We actually played pretty well down there against Ards last year but only won the game 2-0 through two set plays, so it won't be easy.

"We'll go there looking for the win but have to be more clinical than we were against Carrick."

Stephen Lowry and Aaron Burns are free to play after suspension, though given the solid performances in midfield on Saturday for Linfield, added to the havoc created by dangerous attacking trio Paul Smyth, Jordan Stewart and Kirk Millar, it will be interesting to see if Healy changes his team.

On the injury front, influential figures Andy Waterworth and Jimmy Callacher are progressing from knee and hernia issues respectively, yet that won't stop Healy's desire to strengthen his squad with at least one more quality addition.

The Blues boss said: "We are always looking. Would I like other players in? Yes, maybe one or two. Hopefully by the end of the transfer window.

"What I don't want and what I felt we had last season and certainly when I first came in as manager is a lot of numbers.

"We had seven or eight players out on loan.

"We don't have that this time. I don't want any squad numbers wasted.

"I won't add to the squad for the sake of bringing another number in but we will try to add to it with quality.

"Andy will still be out for several weeks.

"It's a hard one to say exactly how long he will be out.

"Andy is an experienced player and knows when he feels right.

"He is doing light training at the moment so hopefully it won't be as long as we feared at first.

"Jimmy Callacher played for the Under-18s on Saturday. He is back on the mend and it will be a big plus to the squad when Andy and Jimmy are fit again."

Ards boss Nixon, meanwhile, knows his men face another daunting assignment tonight, fresh from that heavy loss at Solitude.

The north Down side may still be licking their wounds but they will need to regroup quickly with another relentless attacking machine arriving for battle.

"I'm not one to bemoan injuries but we had a makeshift back four as we were missing a few defenders," said Glentoran legend Nixon.

"I felt we were going well in the match at times but we obviously didn't defend as well as we needed to.

"Cliftonville are a very good side and they played some lovely football.

"If you can score six goals you are a threat to anyone, and with Joe Gormley in your team you always have a chance of winning.

"Joe is at a different level to most strikers and I'm sure Barry Gray will want the Reds to challenge for the title.

"We will roll onto the next one disappointed with the manner of our defeat.

"It's a difficult time for us as we are a bit depleted and now we have the champions at home and they are on a roll.

"We will try our best against them but they are on one heck of a run.

"They are playing with plenty of confidence and that happens when you are at the top and winning trophies.

"But as a group we were disappointed to concede the six goals against Cliftonville, and perhaps that's an indication of how far we have come as we were very disappointed to lose in that manner.

"Beating a team like Linfield would give the boys plenty of confidence but we know they are the toughest test we could face.

"We have players out who are hard to replace but we will certainly try to cause them a few problems."

• Warrenpoint Town's home game against Linfield next month has been moved.

The fixture - originally scheduled for Saturday, September 23 - will now be played on the Friday night, September 22 (7.45pm).

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph