Belfast Telegraph

We can deal with Lurgan Blues storm, vows David Healy

Squaring up: Linfield’s David Healy and Gary Hamilton of Glenavon are ready to go head-to-head
Squaring up: Linfield’s David Healy and Gary Hamilton of Glenavon are ready to go head-to-head

By Graham Luney

Linfield manager David Healy feels his side have real momentum going into today's titanic tussle at home to Glenavon.

The Blues are three games behind their title rivals, but a convincing 3-0 victory over Carrick Rangers in front of the Sky Sports cameras was their fourth win in five matches.

Healy's men have climbed to fifth place in the table and are seven points adrift of leaders Crusaders but have played three fewer games.

There was pressure on the champions to get their Premiership assault back on track after the damaging loss at home to Coleraine and the players have delivered in style.

But the Lurgan Blues will arrive at Windsor Park buoyed by their 3-1 win at home to Ballymena United last weekend.

Healy, however, believes his players are showing their class and character at a crucial time.

"I believe Glenavon were very good last week against Ballymena but we are going into the game in good form," insisted the Blues boss.

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"Our league form has been good, we haven't conceded a goal this month in terms of the league and progressing in cup competitions.

"We want to finish the month on a high and keep closing the gap on the teams in front of us. People will say we are playing catch-up but the teams ahead of us will be looking back at us with a nervous look.

"All the wins are big. I would have taken a 1-0 win at Carrick and we got the goals at the right time to run out comfortable winners. We have been a few players short and the good thing is the young players are buzzing.

"Sometimes you don't have senior players who are buzzing to be on the bench but our young players are hungry to show what they can do.

"Against Carrick it was important we had that 1-0 lead at half-time because it gave us the opportunity to build on that."

Gary Hamilton's side picked up only their second league win to date with that victory over the Sky Blues. At the end of last season, Glenavon ruined the Linfield title party with a shock 4-0 victory.

Blues keeper Gareth Deane, meanwhile, believes the squad is in good shape to defend the title, even though standards in the league continue to shoot up.

"The season before last was a massive let down for the club and we want to retain the Gibson Cup while winning every competition we enter," said Deane.

"I'm in the last year of my contract so I'd like to keep improving and there may be an opportunity to agree a new deal.

"The European run was a great test for the boys and it's fairly sharpened up our fitness levels. I think the new players David has brought to the team have made a significant difference. Now we have three or four players in each position so if you aren't doing the job you are out and will be replaced.

"Playing good teams week in, week out is only going to benefit the league and its profile. Hopefully a few more players will make the move across to England and follow in the footsteps of players like Gavin Whyte, Paul Smyth and Mark Sykes.

"I think the full-time move would be very beneficial for the club, particularly for the European games. If you are training four times a week it will help players' fitness levels."

• Linfield Ladies duo, goalkeeper Lauren Perry and centre-back Kelsie Burrows, have joined Blackburn Rovers' ladies side, linking up with former team-mate Louise McDaniel.

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