Belfast Telegraph

Linfield know a Barry Gray team won't be easily beaten, says Healy

Warrenpoint T v Linfield, Danske Bank Premiership: Milltown, Today, 3.00pm

Switched on: David Healy is wary of the threat posed by Warrenpoint Town
Switched on: David Healy is wary of the threat posed by Warrenpoint Town

By Steven Beacom

Linfield manager David Healy expects an 'explosive challenge' against Warrenpoint Town today and insists his players won't be complacent when taking on the bottom-of-the-table side.

The Blues moved to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership for the first time this season last weekend and with two games in hand on most of their title rivals they are in a strong position.

Healy, however, believes there will be lots of twists and turns in the title race this month let alone in the rest of the campaign, pointing out that he wants the champions to steer clear of drama and have a straightforward run of success.

They have won their last three league games but Northern Ireland's record goalscorer appreciates this afternoon's trip to Milltown is a dangerous assignment given Town's home form since Barry Gary took charge.

Warrenpoint stunned Coleraine and have defeated Ballymena United. They also ran Crusaders very close.

"You only have to look at Warrenpoint's last number of games at home to know how tough it will be," said Healy. "Crusaders got a winner that didn't look over the line and they beat Coleraine and Ballymena.

"People might say, 'It's only Warrenpoint', but there will be absolutely no danger of us going there thinking a Barry Gray team is going to lie down. That certainly won't happen. It'll be an explosive challenge and one we'll need to be more than ready for."

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Linfield are helped by the fact that their players, Eamon Scannell, Lorcan Forde and Brandon Doyle, who are on loan at Milltown cannot play against them. Doyle in particular has been showing excellent form lately.

"Brandon is a good young player with a lot of exciting days ahead. He was in and out of the team under Stephen McDonnell and Barry has come in and sometimes as a player you get a spring in your step. He's scored in his last three games for Warrenpoint so I'd better not ring Barry and tell him I'm taking him back in January," said Healy with a smile.

After Linfield face Warrenpoint, they move towards a mouthwatering set of fixtures at home to Crusaders and away to Glentoran and Coleraine.

"Those are three big games. I know everyone else has tough games as well," said Healy.

"Over the next three or four weeks heading into the New Year, all the other teams are playing each other. Crusaders and Cliftonville play each other on Boxing Day. Coleraine have some big games, so there will be points dropped. It's important you take care of your own business so we're top of the league come the start of the New Year.

"There'll be twists and turns this month. If we do our job and win our games, there shouldn't be any twists and turns at the top. If we don't do, everyone else is capable of taking advantage."

In recent weeks, a key player for Healy has been centre-back Josh Robinson. He scored the winner against Larne and was superb in last weekend's 1-0 victory over Cliftonville.

"Josh will get better. He missed the start of the season and the European run and other players got ahead of him," said Healy. "Mark Stafford and Ryan McGivern got in and Stafford is injured at the moment so for Josh to return the way he has shows what he is all about."

Robinson and Jimmy Callacher will be crucial again today with their task to stop Town talisman Alan O'Sullivan.

Fixtures to come

Today (3.00pm kick-off): Ballymena United v Dungannon Swifts, Institute v Glenavon, Larne v Coleraine, Glentoran v Crusaders, Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

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