Belfast Telegraph

Shrewd Healy knows just how to get the best out of Linfield: Waterworth

By Alex Mills

Striker Andy Waterworth believes Linfield boss David Healy is a shrewd operator.

Although the former Northern Ireland striker made seven changes to his team for the midweek League Cup tie with Moyola Park, Waterworth was surprisingly handed a starting shirt when he thought he'd be kicking his heels on the substitutes' bench.

He repaid his manager by ramming in a sensational five goals in the runaway 8-0 second-round victory, while his strike partner Michael O'Connor also joined the party, along with Mark Stafford and Stephen Fallon.

It was only after the game that Waterworth realised crafty Healy's plot had paid dividends.

"I thought it was a shrewd piece of management by the gaffer," he said. "He could have very easily rested me, but I think he knew in the back of his mind there would be a few goals about - and goals help build confidence.

"I didn't think I would see any action at all, but he told me on Monday night that I'd be playing. I thought it was a cute piece of decision making.

"It was nice to get a few goals - most of them were inside the box, which is usual for me."

Waterworth, who has now netted six times this season, is determined to maintain the theme in today's Danske Bank Premiership clash with Ards at Windsor Park.

"We must make Windsor Park a fortress, so the onus is on us to take the game to Ards," he said. "Games can't come quickly enough because there is a lot of confidence oozing through the squad.

"In saying that, Ards are coming to us off the back of a good league result last Saturday and they won again in the League Cup in midweek, so their tails will be up.

"There have been changes on and off the pitch over the last few months that have freshened things up throughout the club.

"Last season was a difficult one to take, but we must use that experience as a springboard for this season.

"It's (the club) a good place to be at the minute. The training has been brilliant. We have been competitive from the outset, we are fighting for each other."

Waterworth believes the addition of O'Connor, Daniel Kearns, Joel Cooper and Ryan McGivern, who has yet to make his debut, has helped beef up Linfield's challenge.

He said: "I think we are stronger as a group - we certainly have more options.

"We have worked hard in pre-season, focusing on different styles and shapes. We are a bit more collective as a squad.

"We have brought in some great players and they have hit the ground running.

"You can see there are goals in Michael.

"I really enjoy playing with him, although we have different styles.

"He likes to wrestle and bustle and come short - he has great technique, whereas I like to get in behind and stretch defences. I think we complement each other. It's good to have options.

"It was a difficult month away to Glenavon, Crusaders and Cliftonville, but it was probably what we needed because of our poor end to last season. There was a built-up anger and frustration.

"We knew once we saw the fixtures how tough it would be, but we wanted to right the wrongs of last season's campaign.

"I think last week's result at Solitude was probably our best so far. Although we didn't win the game (it ended in a 1-1 draw), we had to play for over an hour with 10 men.

"It was a great performance. To get the point with five minutes to go was great."

Waterworth stresses the Blues will be taking nothing for granted today.

He added: "We now have Ards, Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town coming up, but we know there are no easy fixtures in this league.

"Apparently Dungannon were very good against Glentoran at The Oval last week but didn't get anything out of the game.

"Regardless of the opposition, we have to have the mental character to deal with it and take three points from every game."

• The draw for the third round of the BetMcLean League Cup will be made live on BBC Radio Ulster at around 5.30pm tonight.

Due to the live broadcast of the Danske Bank Premiership fixture between Glentoran and Linfield on Monday, October 8, both clubs' third-round League Cup fixtures will be provisionally scheduled for Tuesday, October 30 (kick-off 7.45pm).

The NIFL League Cup Committee also determined that the Portstewart v H&W Welders second-round game should be replayed in full on Wednesday, September 12 at Coleraine Showgrounds (7.45pm).

The game was abandoned due to a serious knee injury suffered by Welders defender Dan McMurray.

It was 1-1 between the sides in the first period of extra-time at Tillysburn Park when the defender collided with one of his own players and the game was abandoned.

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