LINFIELD manager David Jeffrey admits tonight’s Setanta Cup quarter final clash against Shamrock Rovers at the Tallagh Stadium is a ‘massive test’.
The Blues will be without suspended skipper Michael Gault and striker Mark McAllister for the first leg in Dublin.
But the tournament provides last season’s double winners their only tangible route to silverware as their Premier League defence currently hangs by a thread, while they have already been dumped out of the Irish Club
“We had a good training session on Saturday morning,” said upbeat Jeffrey. “It was a strange feeling on Irish Cup quarter final day, not being involved, having been in the final six times out in the last seven years.
“We have been blessed for the last number of seasons and it would be fair to say that we were all ‘hurt’ at not being in action with the rest of the quarter finalists.
“But we are now very much focused on the Setanta Cup tie.”
Jeffrey has a number of injury worries ahead of the game. He will make late fitness checks on Niall Quinn (ankle), Philip Lowry (groin), Brian McCaul (hamstring) and Matthew Tipton (hamstring), before naming his side. On the plus side midfielder Ryan Henderson should be back pushing for a first team shirt after injury.
The game brings back happy memories for Jeffrey.
“We went down there and won back in 1984... and I managed to score the winning goal,” he recalls. “George Gibson was sent off in the 0-0 draw at Windsor Park – and we were given little hope of achieving anything down in Dublin. It was a fantastic victory.
“The players are now very focused and are very determined. I honestly believe we can do extremely well in this competition. Their attitude has been immense.
“We haven’t had the best of seasons. But when all is said and done, the players hurt every bit as much as the fans when things are not going well.
“They are a very proud bunch of boys and hopefully we can get the result we crave for in Dublin.”