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There are demands for injury-hit Linfield, warns Healy


By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy admits his boys are entering the last chance saloon in tonight's Tennent's Irish Cup quarter-final showdown against Cliftonville at Windsor Park.

Having roared to a triple trophy triumph last season, the ailing Blues will now bid to salvage what has been a hugely disappointing campaign. A poor run of results means, even with seven games remaining, the league title is all but guaranteed to leave the international stadium after only one year in residence.

The Irish Cup is now their only means of gleaning any degree of consolation. The same applies to Barry Gray's erratic Reds, so something has to give - and it would be fair to say both approach the make-or-break tie without hitting any degree of consistency.

Linfield racked up their first home league win since December 23 against Carrick Rangers on Saturday, while the Reds ended a horrible run of results with a thumping victory over north-Belfast rivals Crusaders.

Healy is aware there'll be no hiding place against a side looking to shatter a hoodoo - they haven't lifted the cup since that famous day back in 1979.

"It's our last chance for trophy success, and I'm sure Barry will be saying the same to his players," said Healy. "Both teams could still qualify for Europe via the play-offs, but you can't beat winning silverware.

"That's where you get all the pats on the back and the enjoyment of cup finals. The bottom line is that it's the last chance saloon for both clubs.

"Cliftonville are coming in on the back of a great win over Crusaders. We all know they have a strike force who can hurt any opposition.

"There is no doubt they'll be buoyed by that result, and they'll probably be coming with a bigger backing as their performance must have whetted their fans' appetite.

"It's a Belfast derby, it's the quarter-final of the cup, so everyone knows what's at stake."

Healy admits his men have their own expectations.

"We're already two trophies down, so this means a lot to everyone at the club, especially as we are the holders," he said. "There are no expectations - there are demands, it's up to us.

"Andy Waterworth is struggling. He sustained a back injury at the weekend, which I thought was a heavy challenge that wasn't penalised.

"Roy Carroll and Gareth Deane are both out. Jordan Stewart is also out for the rest of the season, which is a blow."

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