David Healy insists Crusaders’ slip-up on Tuesday night changes nothing as far as Linfield’s title ambitions are concerned.
The Crues suffered a shock 4-3 defeat to basement battlers Carrick Rangers to miss out on the chance of extending their lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.
The champions still hold a healthy five-point advantage over Linfield at the summit, but the pressure could be cranked up if the Blues can defeat Ballinamallard United at Windsor Park on Thursday night (8pm).
“It doesn’t matter what Crusaders do or don’t do, we still have to look after our own results,” Healy said.
“We need to do our job, regardless of what Crusaders do. If they keep winning then they win the league.
“All we can do is look after ourselves and try and put on as much pressure as we can. We have to make sure we get the win against Ballinamallard on Thursday night and cut that lead to two points.”
Linfield will be without livewire striker Paul Smyth on Thursday – the teenager is on international duty with Northern Ireland’s Under 19 squad.
Healy insists whoever comes in to his squad will be “fired up” and ready to deliver.
“Paul has been a revelation, but sadly we lose him now to the Northern Ireland Under 19s,” the Blues boss added.
“It is a great opportunity for him, and he will get to play at an elite stage of the Euros in Holland which is fantastic for him.
“So I am delighted for him, but from a selfish point of view it means he will miss the Ballinamallard and Warrenpoint games.
“But we will be ready for Thursday night. It doesn’t matter who plays up front – (Andy) Waterworth, (Guy) Bates, (Michael) McLellan – they have to play with fire in them and get that win.”
Linfield go into Thursday’s game buoyed by Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win over Cliftonville.
Healy’s side made it two wins in two weeks at Solitude following their 3-0 success in the Irish Cup on March 5.
“People have questioned Linfield’s mentality and our belief this season – maybe we have started answering a few of those doubts,” Healy said.
“Winning those two games at Solitude was a massive boost for the players, and they are growing in belief.
“We will keep fighting until the title is mathematically out of our hands.
“We have the split to come so there is a lot of football to be played.”