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
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