Belfast Telegraph

We won't give up the title without a fight, says Waterworth


By Graham Luney

Linfield striker Andy Waterworth has insisted there is no crisis at Windsor Park ahead of today's crunch clash in Belfast against table-toppers Coleraine.

While Oran Kearney's men are unbeaten in 14 league matches to date, the current Danske Bank Premiership champions have already lost five times, are out of the County Antrim Shield and during the week were eliminated from the League Cup by Crusaders.

The Blues are 11 points behind the Bannsiders and some respected pundits are suggesting this afternoon's clash at Windsor is a must not lose game for David Healy's men if they are to have any hopes of retaining the title they won so impressively last term.

The build-up to the game has been dominated by Linfield calling on a review of refereeing standards in the Irish League after defender Mark Stafford's controversial red card from the midweek defeat to Crusaders was rescinded.

The last time the Blues and Coleraine went toe-to-toe, Kearney's men won 2-1 with a late goal from Jamie McGonigle which Linfield disputed had not crossed the line.

It all points to a compelling clash today with the match officials watched as much as the players.

For Waterworth, who scored a hat-trick when the Blues overcame Coleraine in last season's Irish Cup final, this fixture represents an opportunity for the champions to kick-start their campaign.

The former Glentoran striker, however, is firm in his belief that there is no crisis at the club and that they can mount a serious challenge for the title again.

Waterworth told the Danske Bank Premiership show on Cool FM Facebook: "From the outside, if Linfield lose two games it's a crisis. From the dressing room, we understand it's not good and we're hurting but we're not feeling sorry for ourselves. We were in a situation last year where people were writing us off when we were 12 points behind and we went on to win the treble, so while it doesn't look good and results need to improve, it's not a crisis.

"Football is a funny game and one result could turn our season. We have to regroup and maybe win ugly.

"We didn't get the rub of the green at Crusaders but we played well, though we could have been clinical. Usually when you get a good result that kicks you on and hopefully that will come on Saturday.

"Coleraine are a very good side and are top of the league on merit. We know how Coleraine play, they know how we play and it is a great game for us to bounce back in.

"We are looking for a positive performance and result. It won't be easy and Coleraine will come here and fancy themselves but I believe Linfield can get a result."

The Blues could do with having influential skipper Jamie Mulgrew back from injury. They have missed his ability in midfield.

They also feel they have missed out on some big refereeing calls in recent months as was clear from their club statement on Thursday night.

Waterworth answered that question with a straight bat.

He said: "We came off unfortunate from the refereeing decisions (against Crusaders in the League Cup). As a team after the game we looked at it and we didn't point to the referee as the reason why we got beat, but over the last couple of weeks it has been a huge factor."

Meanwhile, Linfield are in talks with former Coleraine, Cliftonville and Derry City striker David McDaid over a move to Windsor Park.

The Blues look set to win the race for the 26-year-old's signature in January.

"I want to keep winning trophies and my career isn't done yet," said McDaid.

"I obviously won the FAI Cup, League Cup and the First Division with Derry and, having won the First Division with Waterford last year, I just feel it's the right time to go to Linfield.

" I could have gone there when I was at Cliftonville and I regret it because they went on to win the treble."

Linfield vs Coleraine

Danske Bank Premiership:

Windsor Park, Today, 3pm

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