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'Revelation' Andy Waterworth hailed after Linfield's talisman comes up trumps once again

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Andy Waterworth netted twice as Linfield saw off Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

Andy Waterworth netted twice as Linfield saw off Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

Andy Waterworth netted twice as Linfield saw off Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

As time ticks on, the influence of Andy Waterworth on Linfield's drive for success remains the same.

The Blues went nine points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table when they smashed Crusaders 4-0 at Windsor Park on Friday, putting a massive dent in their visitors' title chances in the process.

While Coleraine would close that gap to seven points, the Bannsiders still boasting a game in hand, by beating Institute 4-0 in Saturday's early kick-off, it's a commanding lead at the top of the table.

It's all down to Linfield's four league wins in a row achieved since the 3-1 defeat at Larne last month.

In that run, half of their 12 goals have been scored by 33-year-old talisman Waterworth.

When the Blues signed Lavery in the summer, and the former Everton man began his Linfield career with four goals in six European games, a changing of the guard was being heralded.

Fast forward six months and it's the old hand once again at the forefront as his form has relegated Lavery to the bench.

Waterworth's goal on Friday night took his tally to 13 for the league season.

"Andy's been a revelation for this club," Healy told BBC after the game.

"We don't always agree on things but I've huge respect for Andy the man and, more importantly, Andy the player. When we've needed somebody to pop up with big goals over recent weeks, Andy has done that.

"He has been immense since I've been at the club. Andy's getting a bit older but we're trying to adapt a bit of his game. He doesn't train as much as some of the other boys but if he keeps giving us the performances and the goals, we'll continue to do what's best for Andy."

It's been the same story throughout Healy's reign. Who could forget Waterworth's back-to-back hat-tricks to secure both the league title and the Irish Cup in 2017?

Then when it came to last season's League Cup final, Waterworth was once again the man to bag the telling goal to see off Ballymena United.

While there is plenty of football still to play, it would be a brave man to bet against Linfield's current spot at the top of the table remaining until the season climax.

"We went through a spell in the new year when there were a few iffy results but the boys have been a credit to the club," Healy continued. "We've had so many highs and the odd low. There have been questions asked about these players and me as a manager but one these the boys do, and hopefully I do as a manager, is answer back with performances and big results.

"To see a real contender like Crusaders off in the convincing style we did is very pleasing."

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