David Jeffrey admits it is no surprise to see Glentoran sitting third in the Danske Bank Premiership.
The Glens’ ongoing financial plight has prompted repeated concerns over the club’s ambitions this season.
Only last week it emerged the Oval club had secured a much-needed cash lifeline from main sponsors McLean Bookmakers.
The boost came only weeks after reports surfaced that players and staff had not been paid in eight weeks.
The off-field drama has done little to halt Eddie Patterson’s side’s ascent up the table, however, with Glentoran currently sitting in third spot.
And for Linfield boss Jeffrey – whose side meet the Glens in the annual Boxing Day derby on Wednesday – there is no shock in his rivals’ progress this term.
“I am not surprised to see Glentoran sitting third in the table,” Jeffrey said.
“They have some very good players. They have assembled some squad and spent a lot of money doing it.
“So they will be a very tough test on Boxing Day.
“Wednesday is the traditional Christmas Big Two game – it is a great fixture.
Champions Linfield are trying to revive their own season following a stop-start campaign to date.
They have shown promising signs in recent weeks, taking seven points from a possible nine from their last three fixtures including a spirited 2-2 draw against Crusaders on Saturday.
“I am certainly heartened from the performance against Crusaders, but we have suspensions and injuries to contend with during a busy Christmas season,” he added.
“Philip Lowry is a massive doubt after coming off on Saturday. Michael Gault is struggling with a hamstring/knee problem and William Murphy is out after being concussed on Saturday.”
Linfield sit 13 points off league leaders Cliftonville – who also have a game in hand – but Jeffrey is refusing to throw the towel in on their title defence.
“The title is very much Cliftonville’s to lose. They are very much in the driving seat as they are six points clear,” the Blues boss added.
“But we are certainly not throwing the towel in. We are down, but are not out.”