Belfast Telegraph

Niall Currie's Carrick deserve huge credit for Premiership adjustment, says Healy

 

Title power: Linfield boss David Healy knows Niall Currie's men will be a tough nut to crack
Title power: Linfield boss David Healy knows Niall Currie's men will be a tough nut to crack

By Steven Beacom

Linfield manager David Healy has heaped praise on Carrick Rangers boss Niall Currie ahead of today's league meeting between the sides at Windsor Park.

When they faced each other earlier in the campaign the Blues won 3-0 at the Loughshore Hotel Arena but that was not a true reflection of the contest.

Indeed, had Rangers taken their early opportunities they could have been 3-0 ahead.

When Northern Ireland's record goalscorer was appointed Linfield boss four years ago, critics suggested he didn't know enough about the Irish League.

That assumption was wrong then and now Healy is one of the most knowledgeable bosses about what goes on across the Danske Bank Premiership.

Looking forward to this afternoon's clash, he rhymes off the various styles and formations he could face from a Carrick side who have surprised many by moving into ninth in the table and clear of relegation strife.

Whatever the Blues come up against, Healy says they will face a team with total commitment.

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"Niall Currie's teams are always well organised and make life difficult," said Healy.

"I read Niall's quotes this week where he said they are probably ahead of schedule in terms of what they have achieved so far this season.

"They deserve immense praise for that.

"That's credit to the team, the new signings who have come in and the management staff. Niall has done a great job there and one thing you can be sure about is that Carrick will give 100% effort."

Linfield front man Joel Cooper added: "They will come and be stubborn and be well organised.

"There's no pressure on them and we'll have to be on it."

There was surprise this week when Cooper revealed he hasn't been 'on it' the way he would have liked this season even if Linfield team-mates and fans may disagree.

Cooper netted the winning goal for the Blues in their 1-0 midweek triumph at home to Cliftonville in the Bet McLean League Cup quarter-finals.

"It was a big goal from Joel. It's important for him to keep delivering match-winning performances to build his confidence," said Healy, whose side are five points behind leaders Coleraine with two games in hand.

"I thought we dominated the game and were in control. Cliftonville had an early chance but apart from that we had lots of possession, our movement was good and we created numerous opportunities.

"The league defeat at Coleraine last weekend was a difficult one to take.

"We didn't do enough offensively and defensively to get something out of the game so I was pleased with the reaction against Cliftonville."

Healy will assess injury concerns for captain Jamie Mulgrew, Ryan McGivern and Shayne Lavery, who all had to come off in midweek, before selecting his side.

Josh Robinson returned from a spell on the sidelines against the Reds, coming on as a substitute, which offers the Blues more options at the back.

One of the star performers on Tuesday night, though, was 22-year-old midfielder Stephen Fallon.

"I thought Stephen Fallon was excellent," said Healy.

"He is moving towards the player I thought he could be when he was 16 or 17.

"His all-round game, energy, use of the ball and eye for a pass are there.

"Also, he should have scored against Cliftonville.

"If he does start adding goals to his game then he can be the complete midfielder. I have high hopes for him.

"He has bided his time and got fitter and stronger.

"He can also be an inspiration to the younger players at Linfield to show them exactly what can be achieved by working hard and being patient and then taking your chance when it comes."

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