Belfast Telegraph

Linfield must show true colours for Bannsiders visit: David Healy

Title chase: David Healy is well aware Coleraine will present a
stern challenge for Linfield at Windsor today
Title chase: David Healy is well aware Coleraine will present a stern challenge for Linfield at Windsor today

By Steven Beacom

Linfield manager David Healy wants his players to show their true colours against Coleraine at Windsor Park today.

The Bannsiders are the only team to have beaten the Blues away from home in the Danske Bank Premiership this season and boss Rodney McAree would love to make it a double at the national stadium.

On the downside though Coleraine are without winger Darren McCauley who inspired his side to a 2-1 success at Windsor in November.

McCauley has since moved to Scottish outfit Inverness Caley Thistle but on the upside McAree recruited brilliantly in the January transfer window with the likes of Ben Doherty and Jamie Glackin hitting the ground running having joined the Showgrounds surge.

Coleraine also brought in Healy's former Northern Ireland team-mate Dean Shiels, who has shown his class already. Shiels will relish the opportunity to play at a ground where he scored his only international goal.

McAree's men are in the middle of a fine run of form and moved up to fourth place in the table in midweek with a 2-0 victory at Dungannon.

In Linfield's last outing they were knocked out of the Irish Cup at Windsor by Crusaders but prior to that the Blues won nine games in a row moving six points clear in the title race in the process.

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Healy and his players have excelled this term. One of the few low points came that November day when Coleraine beat them on home turf.

The Blues are heavy favourites to clinch league championship glory but Healy refuses to look too far ahead.

"We have 11 league games and we are looking no further than Coleraine coming here," he says.

"The last time we played them was one of the few really poor performances we have put together this season.

"We were miles off it so it is opportunity for us to show where we are and show how much we have improved. We're looking forward to it and it's another big game for us."

Following the Coleraine contest, Linfield play back-to-back fixtures against second placed Ballymena United in the League Cup final and Danske Bank Premiership.

"February is a big month and a tough month with a lot of huge games," says Healy.

"We have to make sure our attitude is positive and we want to finish the season positively."

On last weekend's last gasp extra-time Cup loss to the Crues, Healy said: "We were hugely disappointed to go out especially with the manner of it. We didn't have that real ruthless edge but I couldn't fault the effort of the players."

There was a sense of disappointment amongst all parties earlier in the week when Linfield's County Antrim Shield final against Crusaders was postponed due to the Ballymena Showgrounds being waterlogged but it may actually work to the advantage of the Windsor club who have been on a constant run of matches lately.

Healy's side are currently six points ahead of Ballymena, who have a played a game less, and nine in front of champions Crusaders.

The plan will be to maintain or increase that lead going into the split fixtures. The long winning run for the Blues ended last weekend. Now Healy will want his side to start another one that will eventually see them crowned champions.

• Sligo Rovers have signed former Glentoran and Linfield man Daryl Fordyce on a one-year deal.

The 32-year-old, who can play in midfield or up front, arrives after a six-year stint in Canada with FC Edmonton and briefly at American side FC Cincinnati.

Fordyce, who was once close to joining St Pat's when Bit O'Red boss Liam Buckley was in charge there, took a break from football last year for family reasons.

New Rovers boss Buckley said: "Daryl brings a wealth of experience and a real composure and quality on the ball.

"He has impressed in the week he has been with us. It's a great move from our end because it's an area we've had to strengthen.

"I know there was interest from a number of clubs up north but he has really taken to things here and I'm delighted to sign him here today."

Fordyce said: "Family came first for me last year, and the way it transpired meant I couldn't join a club.

"It was a hard year for all of us but it's over and I'm focusing on the future. I think that this can be a brilliant move."

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