Belfast Telegraph

Paul Smyth can make it big in England but hopefully not yet, says Linfield team-mate

By Graham Luney

Stephen Lowry has backed Paul Smyth to seal his dream move across the water but he hopes it doesn't happen soon.

The winger, who turns 20 next month, is being followed by scouts across the water and League Two side Crawley Town attempted a raid when they bid almost £60,000 for the teenager.

It's widely accepted that flying machine Smyth has the qualities to prosper in the professional game but Blues boss David Healy isn't ready to part with his goal getter just yet, particularly while Andy Waterworth is injured.

Midfielder Lowry, who along with Aaron Burns will miss the Danske Bank Premiership opener against Carrick Rangers on Saturday through suspension, says the growing interest in Smyth is no surprise.

"There is plenty of interest in Paul and you expect that because he is a fantastic player who has the pace and tricks," said the former Coleraine ace. "There is no doubt he could play across the water but hopefully we can keep him as long as possible. I want to play alongside the best in the league and Paul is one of them.

"It's disappointing to see Andy get injured but wee Paul is flying and with Cameron Stewart and Burnsy (Aaron Burns) goals are never far away."

Linfield are slight favourites to see off Crusaders again in the title race and Lowry admits the champions are the scalp that everyone wants.

"I think we are there to be shot at, and Crusaders will be at the front of the queue looking to get at us," he added. "They will be wanting to regain the title and we must be ready for that challenge but other sides such as Cliftonville have strengthened while Ballymena United and Coleraine are always strong.

"I'm disappointed to miss the first game as my disciplinary record is very good. But we've had a good pre-season with a few great European matches and the squad is in great shape."

Linfield aren't lacking match fitness after two titanic battles with Celtic and the players will never forget their extraordinary European adventure.

Defender Mark Haughey has admitted their Celtic memories will drive them on to reaching the big stage again. He said: "It was my first experience of the Champions League, and we want to be part of that. Linfield belong in that competition and we want to be in it every season.

"I'll never forget playing in front of 58,000 people at Parkhead with the incredible noise and atmosphere. It's one of the rewards for winning the league title and of course your appetite has been whetted for more."

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