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Shayne Lavery hails David Healy's impact as Linfield striker named NIFWA Player of the Month

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Shayne Lavery receives his Player of the Month Award from NI Football Writers Association chairman Stuart McKinley.

Shayne Lavery receives his Player of the Month Award from NI Football Writers Association chairman Stuart McKinley.

Shayne Lavery receives his Player of the Month Award from NI Football Writers Association chairman Stuart McKinley.

Talisman striker Shayne Lavery may have bagged 20 goals in Linfield's Danske Bank Premiership title push this season, but he admits he's no stranger to an ear-bashing from a demanding David Healy.

The 23-year-old's sensational form earned him a call-up from Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough for the recent World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Bulgaria, with a friendly against the USA in between.

He has been instrumental in the Blues' push for the Gibson Cup which, if successful, would equal Rangers' world record of 55 League title wins.

Level-headed Lavery, once with Everton and Falkirk, doesn't intend to become carried away. He stresses his gaffer helps keep the players grounded and that there is no question of him becoming a 'teacher's pet' for Healy despite his impressive form.

"The boss has been a massive help to me," says Lavery, who is today named the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association's Player of the Month for March.

"Everyone learns off him at Linfield. He was a top striker, having played at the best of clubs and his Northern Ireland goalscoring record speaks for itself.

"He knows the standards that must be kept. If you are not performing, you will be told.

"The boss works a lot with the strikers. Andy Waterworth would probably say he shouts at him more than me, but we all know if you don't perform at Linfield, you are going to get a few words in your ear - no one is exempt."

Lavery bagged eight goals in six games last month, but he prefers to credit his team-mates rather than take personal plaudits.

"We didn't start the month too well, with the defeat to Glentoran, so we had a point to prove, we needed to bounce back," he adds.

"As a team, we did well after that. To be honest, I didn't know how many goals I scored over the month. I'm not one for setting targets.

"My aim was to perform better, hoping the goals would come. I feel that my performances have been better and I've been getting into the right areas for goals."

His excellent form has again raised speculation about his future. Could a move back to England be on the cards?

"I don't think about it at all," he insists.

"The only thing on my mind is our next game. Every match is massive, they are all Cup Finals.

"I feel if you think about that stuff, you lose focus. My priority is winning games which will hopefully lead to winning trophies at Linfield. If my performances and goals help, even better."

Lavery admits his Northern Ireland call-up was a dream.

"It was amazing to get into the squad," he adds. "I didn't expect it. The boss called to put me on standby but then a few of the lads pulled out.

"Ian then called me the day before we were meeting up. He told me I was included. It was amazing, especially for such big games against Italy and Bulgaria, World Cup qualifiers.

"It was great to play against boys like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, although I didn't really think much about it at the time. It was only after the game I realised who I just played against. It will probably hit me in a month's time as well."

Lavery picked up a nice souvenir in Chiellini's jersey. He concludes: "I think he had a few shirts at the ready - a few of the boys got a shirt from him. He was prepared for it.

"If you are playing teams like that, it's nice to get a souvenir. You very rarely get a chance to play against boys like that."


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