BLEAK WIN­TER? BRING IT ON

Healy plays it cool de­spite the prospect of his ti­tle con­tend­ing Blues fac­ing chief ri­vals in tough pe­riod be­fore Christ­mas

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT - BY DAR­REN FULLER­TON

DAVID Healy in­sists he’s chilled out about a win­ter fix­ture list that will put Lin­field’s ti­tle cre­den­tials to the test in the busy ap­proach to Christ­mas.

In their next five league out­ings, the Blues – who lie sec­ond in the ta­ble – face four top-six clubs, start­ing to­day against last sea­son’s run­ners-up Coleraine.

A trip to In­sti­tute, who lie eighth, fol­lows next Satur­day, be­fore the Big Two giants face a home clash with fourth-placed Cliftonville on Novem­ber 24.

Fac­tor in a trip to in-form Ballymena United, who are third, and a home clash with reign­ing cham­pi­ons Cru­saders in early-de­cem­ber and Lin­field are star­ing at a bleak sched­ule.

But Healy, who is with­out in­jured striker Daniel Kearns for up to eight weeks with an an­kle in­jury, de­clared: “Bring it on. They’re all great games and we’ll look for­ward to them.

“I re­mem­ber when the fix­ture list was first an­nounced at the start of the sea­son and we were away to Gle­navon, Cru­saders, Cliftonville and Coleraine in a short space of weeks.

“Our men­tal­ity is one where we want to play in these big fix­tures. It’s a case of bring­ing on the big games be­cause that’s where the sea­son can be make or break.

“It of­ten comes down to cru­cial mo­ments at cru­cial times in these games. It’ll be 100 miles an hour against Coleraine and hope­fully we come out on the right end of it.”

Lin­field, level on points with Gle­navon who are top on goal dif­fer­ence with a game in hand, are bid­ding to get back to win­ning ways af­ter last week’s 1-1 draw with War­ren­point.

It took a 96th minute equaliser from Andy Waterworth to sal­vage a share of the spoils for the Blues who have lost just one of 18 games in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son.

“The im­por­tant thing was we kept go­ing and picked up some­thing,” said Healy. “It also kept us un­beaten at home.”

While to­day’s op­po­nents have found con­sis­tency hard to come by un­der new boss Rod­ney Mcaree, Healy knows Coleraine have the qual­ity to click into gear.

The Ban­n­men are un­beaten in six away league games; a run which in­cludes last week’s 2-1 win at In­sti­tute.

Healy said: “A lot has been said about Coleraine hav­ing a new man­ager, but I take that with a pinch of salt. They still have a core group that was very, very good for them last year.

“It’s the same group of play­ers who had a suc­cess­ful cam­paign last sea­son and while they’ve lost a cou­ple of play­ers, they’ve also added one or two oth­ers.

“It was a bat­tle when we drew 0-0 at their place ear­lier in the sea­son and I ex­pect the same on Satur­day.”

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK Lin­field and David Healy face a tough run of fix­tures now

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