LINFIELD boss David Jeffrey admits he is hoping for the best, but fearing the worst after striker Matthew Tipton was struck down by another worrying injury.
The 32-year-old, who has been plagued with problems since his summer move from Portadown, hobbled away from Windsor Park on Friday night with what appeared to be serious knee complaint.
Tipton had only been on the pitch for eight minutes when he walked to the dugout, insisting he couldn’t carry on.
“My gut feeling is it could be a cruciate ligament problem,” said Jeffrey. “Terry Hayes carried out all the preliminary tests, but the knee was still badly swollen.
“Matthew is due to be re-examined by the doctor. I’m hoping it’s not as bad as it looks, but it didn’t look a good injury. The player himself is totally distraught.
“Matthew came to the bench and said: ‘my knee has gone . . . I have no strength in it at all’.
“His knee gave way when he twisted, whatever way the fella caught him. It wasn’t the Distillery lad’s fault, in any shape or form. It was just one of those things.”
Jeffrey has a number of other injury worries ahead of tonight’s County Antrim Shield quarter-final clash against rivals Glentoran at the Oval.
“We will monitor three of four players before naming the team,” he added. “Brian McCaul, Michael Gault and William Murphy all picked up various little knocks.
“We may be forced to reshuffle the pack. I’ll not be taking risks with any player carrying an injury. What I’m not going to do is rotate the squad for the sake of changing personnel.”
Jeffrey expects another blood-and-thunder collision, adding: “Glentoran are the only unbeaten club at present. They are going very well. It’s a cup competition a one-off game, so anything can happen.
“I thought we did well in East Belfast last time – perhaps we should have come away with more than one point.
“But I’ve got to say, Glentoran have been very impressive. It certainly hasn’t surprised me. People were going on about the doom and gloom that surrounded the club, but they have proved them wrong.”
Jeffrey believes if the Big Two thrive, Irish League football also benefits.
“Glentoran are now back challenging, which is good for the local game,” he added. “All you have got to look at is Scottish football. In spite of their massive rivalry, Celtic needs Rangers and vice-versa.
“That rivalry exists between Linfield and Glentoran. So in terms of support and people going through the turnstiles, it is vitally important.”
Meanwhile, Glens boss Eddie Patterson, will make ‘a few changes’ to the team that was deprived of three league points at Ballymena United on Friday night, with Gary Thompson plundering a last gasp leveller.
“We have some players needing game time,” he said. “We’ll have a look at things, not to the extent where it would discredit or disrespect the County Antrim Shield.
“It’s one of four senior trophies and one we want to win. Things have been going relatively well, although we were disappointed to concede an equaliser so late in the game at Ballymena.”