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Linfield new-boys Navid Nasseri and Conor Pepper can thrive under pressure of moves from Glentoran, says skipper Mulgrew



Making strides: Jamie Mulgrew admits he’s glad Linfield have had European battles to focus on

Making strides: Jamie Mulgrew admits he’s glad Linfield have had European battles to focus on

Making strides: Jamie Mulgrew admits he’s glad Linfield have had European battles to focus on

Navid Nasseri and Conor Pepper have the character to cope with the pressures that come with a move from Glentoran to Linfield, according to Blues skipper Jamie Mulgrew who has been a huge success at Windsor Park following his Big Two switch in 2005.

While the new Irish League season is not due to start until next month, both Nasseri and Pepper have played in Europe for their new club following their headline-grabbing transfers across the city on August 1.

They will hope to follow in the footsteps of current players like Mulgrew, Andy Waterworth and Jimmy Callacher who have been big hits for the Blues having left The Oval. Jordan Stewart is another ex-Glens star who has lifted numerous trophies at Linfield, though he arrived from Swindon Town.

Ahead of Thursday's Europa League second qualifying round tie at home to Maltese side Floriana, midfielder Mulgrew said: "Seeing Navid and Conor regularly in training, you can understand why we signed them.

"Without being big-headed towards us as players, when new signings get onto the training ground they do find that at Linfield it is a really good standard.

"We have a good quality group of players who work in a very professional environment and standards are high. When they come here they realise how tough and how hard they have to work, though that's not to say they haven't been doing that in the past.

"Regarding them coming from Glentoran, I don't see that being a problem for the two lads.

"Whenever I left Glentoran it was probably different because I hadn't done anything in the game up to that point.

"With Andy (Waterworth), Jimmy (Callacher) and Jordan (Stewart) they might know a little better because they were established players at Glentoran. I have had conversations with the boys and so has Andy and they know about the pressures and all eyes being on them, but I believe they are experienced enough and big enough players to cope.

"I know I would relish that challenge. I had a point to prove when I joined Linfield and it was motivation for me to be successful and it turned out okay.

"I hope they will show their qualities both in our European games and when the league starts, and I feel that they have the character to handle any pressure that comes their way."

Mulgrew adds that with the league not due to kick-off until October, he is pleased to have European football to focus on.

"For ourselves it is great that we are still involved in Europe because it is extremely beneficial for us," said the highly-decorated 34-year-old.

"I would think for other teams not in Europe it is hard to continue to train and train and look to a provisional date when our league is going to start that isn't set in stone.

"Thankfully we have European matches, which means high-intensity and high-quality matches and we want to have as many of them as possible.

"The manager David Healy and Ross Oliver and the rest of the staff always prepare us well and give us information and ideas about what to expect and we will be well drilled ahead of Thursday night's game."

Belfast Telegraph