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Scottish hosts planning on giving Linfield the Blues

By Graham Luney

Queen of the South boss Gavin Skelton has warned Linfield that tomorrow's showdown is one he's "desperate to win". The hosts go into the IRN-BRU Cup battle on the back of a 0-0 draw at Dunbarton in the Championship, a result which extends their unbeaten run to eight matches.

Irish and Welsh sides are competing in the old Challenge Cup tournament for the first time and Linfield face a daunting test at the home of the Scottish Championship leaders.

More than 1,000 Blues fans will be at Palmerston Park in Dumfries for the clash which has a 1pm kick-off and will be televised live on the BBC Alba channel (Sky channel 142).

The tournament, formerly known as the Scottish Challenge Cup, has included Irish and Welsh sides for the first time and David Healy's side will be roared on by a large travelling support in an intriguing encounter.

Queens boss Skelton has done his homework on the Blues and he won't be underestimating David Healy's side who are also unbeaten in their domestic league.

"This game is something different and exciting for us," said Skelton.

"It's one I'm desperate to win because it's a tournament we are hungry to do well in. We have just had to assess a few injuries this week and we can't take risks with players.

"We had Linfield watched in Belfast last weekend and it's a game we will prepare well for. The bigger picture for us is that we have made a great start to the season and defensively we have looked solid.

"When you aren't scoring goals as freely as earlier in the season it's important not to get beaten but the players felt a little disappointed after the draw with Dunbarton and that's a measure of how hungry they are to win.

"We have quite a young squad the boys have taken their opportunities. Overall, 18 points from eight starts is a good start and I expect us to get stronger as the season goes on.

"There will be tough times as well and you expect every game to be difficult but I'm delighted with our progress."

This match will be Linfield's first competitive fixture in Scotland and winger Aaron Burns makes the trip boosted by the news he has netted the Player of the Month gong for September from Northern Ireland football writers.

"It's a huge honour," admitted Burns.

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