Jeffrey hoping Linfield can get back to winning ways

David Jeffrey with the Irish Cup in 2012 - Linfield's last trophy success
David Jeffrey with the Irish Cup in 2012 - Linfield's last trophy success

Linfield manager David Jeffrey will be hoping to end 22 months of hurt in Tuesday night’s County Antrim Shield final.

The Blues are on the hunt for silverware success after finishing last season empty-handed.

Their last trophy came back in May 2012 with a 4-1 Irish Cup win over Crusaders.

It will be the Crues once again standing between Jeffrey and cup glory at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Tuesday evening (7.45pm kick-off).

The hunger is evident in both camps, not least with Jeffrey who is set to stand down as Linfield boss at the end of the season.

Victory tonight would also see the outgoing boss draw level with Roy Coyle’s silverware record at Windsor Park.

Coyle won 31 trophies from 1975-90, an incredible return that Jeffrey could yet eclipse.

To do that he needs to lift Tuesday’s Shield, and claim the Premiership title.

It’s a simple mission statement on paper, but Jeffrey is under no illusions heading into the first instalment.

“The focus of the players is on trying to win trophies again for this great club of ours,” Jeffrey told the club’s website.

“Last season was obviously a barren time for us. I’ve stated previously that we’ve undergone a major rebuilding process and there’s obviously still more work to be done on that front.

“One of the great lessons for any Linfield player is about having to win trophies and the actual experience of winning trophies.

“That’s the focus of the players in terms of what we’ll be trying to achieve.

“We know we’ll be coming up against an accomplished and strong Crusaders team. I’ve gone on record previously as saying what a magnificent job Stephen Baxter has done for Crusaders.

“He’s built up a very strong squad and there’s no doubt that Tuesday’s game is going to be a very difficult task.”

Crues boss Stephen Baxter admits he is relishing the business end of the season.

The Shore Road side lost out in the final of the League Cup, but could still finish the year with two trophies – with the club also into the semi-finals of the Irish Cup.

“Crusaders versus Linfield games have always been very tight over the past couple of years, and there has always only been a goal here or there between the sides,” Baxter said.

“We will expect Linfield to come all guns blazing against us, as they always do.

“They didn’t have a game on Saturday so they will be well rested. They will have a good fit squad, so I expect a tough game.

“We are in that group of games where our squad will be stretched.

“We had the Setanta last Monday followed by the Irish Cup at the weekend, and now we have the Shield final. We then have Coleraine on Friday night, so we have a lot of football games to play.

“But hey, that’s brilliant. Ask any other team in the country if they would like to be playing in all these big matches, and I am sure they would say yes.”

Baxter has a number of players missing for Tuesday’s Shield final.

“Richard Clarke is cup tied, and we have two fit midfielders available for us which makes life that little bit more difficult.

“Also out are Colin Coates, Craig McClean and Timmy Adamson,” he added.

“Chris Morrow trained well on Saturday so we will check him before Tuesday.

“The only problem is he hasn’t played since the cup final, so that’s a long time. He hasn’t played football for five weeks, and has only trained once or twice. So he won’t start Tuesday’s game.”