Belfast Telegraph

Linfield's Christmas fixture list crackers, says David Healy

 

Frustration: David Healy is unhappy an extra fixture has been squeezed in
Frustration: David Healy is unhappy an extra fixture has been squeezed in
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

David Healy has hit out at the "baffling" decision to play Linfield's rearranged Co Antrim Shield semi-final next week.

The Blues take on Ballymena United on Tuesday - just seven days before Christmas.

Originally the tie was to be played at the Showgrounds in November, but it was postponed after heavy rain. It was later rearranged for next Tuesday, adding to an already packed festive schedule which sees Linfield play 10 times in just over a month.

Healy's anger is centred on the decision to reschedule the Ballymena tie in the middle of the busiest few weeks of the season.

He said the extra fixture is a "needless" burden on his players, and on fans' pockets at an expensive time of the year.

"It baffles me how someone can rearrange a fixture and just decide to throw it in like that," he said.

"I think the Co Antrim organisers will probably be disappointed next week.

"We had so many Linfield supporters at Dungannon (this week), so many will be at Newry, so many were out last week at Portadown. It's £10 or £11 to get into a match - you have travel, expenses, plus families, kids and Christmas.

"The Co Antrim FA are baffling me, and I don't understand the reasoning, the decision to throw the game in seven days - a week - before Christmas.

"But they will be disappointed next week because if things are the way they are at the minute - where we are with players, bigger games coming up - they will be disappointed with the turn-out and attendance.

"The Co Antrim FA are throwing a needless fixture date in, when they could have quite easily played it in January."

Today the focus is on the Danske Bank Premiership as Linfield travel to Newry.

With the game kicking off at 1pm, the Blues can temporarily go top of the table.

Confidence is high after last weekend's 4-1 win at Crusaders, and Tuesday night's cup win at Dungannon.

Healy added: "Saturday now becomes massive for us - away to Newry.

"We took momentum from the game against Crusaders into the Dungannon tie, and came up with a plucky performance, showing a bit of character.

"Hopefully we can now take that into Newry and into the Co Antrim Shield tie next Tuesday."

Healy was pleased with character his side showed at Stangmore Park, where Andrew Waterworth's injury-time strike secured victory.

He added: "Outside of here, they don't get too many plaudits, but I was absolutely delighted with the work rate." Healy, meanwhile, has given an injury update on the squad. He said: "Daniel Kearns was injured down at Dungannon several weeks ago but he's now available for selection and in contention for a place in our squad for our upcoming games. Mark Stafford was injured at Portadown and I'm not expecting him to be available until next weekend. Cameron Stewart will train with the squad tonight but I don't expect him to be in line for a comeback for several weeks."

• The League Cup final between Ballymena United and Linfield will be played at Windsor Park on Saturday, February 16 and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports (5.30pm).

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