Belfast Telegraph

Warrenpoint will treat Linfield like a free hit, warns David Healy

Red alert: David Healy is keen to avoid any complacency
Red alert: David Healy is keen to avoid any complacency

By Alex Mills

Linfield boss David Healy believes basement strugglers Warrenpoint Town have nothing to lose in tonight's rearranged league game at Windsor Park.

Stephen McDonnell's side arrive having pocketed merely three points from their opening 11 Danske Bank Premiership games, and will be expected to leave empty-handed yet again.

It's a mismatch in many ways, but Healy doesn't buy into that. Ever the professional, the former Northern Ireland striker will have his boys prepared for a game in which victory would take them within two points of table-topping Coleraine.

Even though the current champions have been playing catch-up because of their record-breaking run in the Europa League, they are now back in full title mode - reflected in their impressive win over Ballymena United at the weekend.

"Warrenpoint are one of the teams that caused us problems last season, especially at Windsor, so we'll give them full respect," said Healy.

"They'll look at it as a free one because they'll not be expected to win.

"They'll try to get something out of the game which would be a bonus for them, so we have to be prepared for that."

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Healy will again reshuffle his pack for the game, with influential centre-back Mark Stafford expected to sit this one out.

"I thought Mark was immense against Ballymena, stepping out (of defence) and being comfortable on the ball," said Healy.

"He has improved immensely, not only on the defensive side of his game but how comfortable he is on the ball.

"He was unsure what direction his career was going last January. In fact, there were a few interested parties to sign him.

"I spoke with Staff and reassured him I wanted him to be part of my plans going forward and he has been exceptional."

Healy believes he now has a squad that allows him to rotate when the need arises.

He added: "The pleasing thing now is we have more options. Jordan Stewart was out for a number of weeks due to injury, he came back at the weekend.

"Daniel Kearns is not too far away from a return. We have a good squad and a solid base of regular players.

"We are still missing Josh Robinson and Mark Haughey, so the players and the squad in general must take immense credit for the way they have acquitted themselves.

"We are still playing catch-up, but they've helped put us back on the tails of the teams at the top."

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