IRISH LEAGUE: Blues boss David Healy expects a battle at Solitude

Linfield manager David Healy
Linfield manager David Healy

Linfield manager David Healy knows his side face an acid test on Saturday when they tackle Cliftonville at Solitude in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Reds have had a mixed start to the season - while the Blues have got off to a great start with their only reverse was to Crusaders at Seaview.

Barry Gray’s side have struggled in a few games this season but they will have been lifted after last Saturday’s 2-1 success away to Carrick Rangers where striker Joe Gormley got both goals.

But Healy knows - no-matter what sort of form Cliftonville are in - is not an easy task.

“I would take three points at Solitude whatever way I could get them.

“It will be a difficult game and Cliftonville have not started the season that well but over the next few weeks they will be looking for a response from their players.

“And we found out going at the end of last season it does not matter if Cliftonville are in good or poor form we will still find it difficult up there.

“But we played Warrenpoint on Friday night so we have an extra day to recover.

“We have four away games still to come so thank you to all the fans and also for their best wishes when we came off the field against Warrenpoint,” said Healy.

The Windsor Park boss is looking to fixures against Cliftonville, Coleraine, Ballinamallard United and Dundee in the coming weeks.

“They are big games and they are big games that I am looking forward to.

“And some of the players have been carrying knocks from the Warrenpoint game but we have had an extra day to recover and that will do us good as we look to get in another good week of preparation for the Cliftonville game.”

Cliftonville boss Barry Gray is hoping his side can build on last Saturday’s 2-1 win away to Carrick Rangers.

The result last weekend means the Reds got their first away win the league since last year and the Reds manager is delighted to have finally ended their away day hoodoo.

“It is not all my stats but it is a stat for the club and we have been reminded about it often enough, so it is nice to bring it to an end.

“Our last away win was here but I am just delighted to get the win and the points.”

And Gray was pleased with the second half performance of Joe Gormley who came off the bench to grab the goals that saw off Carrick.

“He showed great attitude even when he knew he wasn’t starting.

“He did well and you see his qualities and that is what he is all about.

“When he went on he proved why he should have started the game and as a manager that is the response you want.

“I thought Rory and Jay Donnelly did very well during the week and I thought I would give them a chance.

“Joe has been struggling for a goal and even Joe knows that.

“I thought I would take him out of the limelight and today that worked for us. He as quality and he showed that today.”

Gray knows his side are in for a tough afternoon against Linfield - even though they are at home.

“They say games look after themselves and I hope that is the case against Linfield.

“The players came off against Carrick and they could see the differences in the two halfs. In the second half we did what we had to do and hopefully we can build on that in the Linfield game.

“There were positives from the Carrick game but we can’t throw that all away against Linfield.

“Linfield are a good side so we will need a performance.”