MICHAEL Carvill has described Saturday’s showdown with Cliftonville as a “huge test” for champions Linfield.
The Blues lie nine points behind Tommy Breslin’s early pacesetters as the race for Gibson Cup continues to heat up.
Linfield’s title defence has been shunted from pillar to post during 14 testing fixtures.
David Jeffrey’s side has already lost five times to lie in sixth position as we continue into November.
Questions have been posed to last season’s double winners.
And in the past fortnight they have received a firm rebuttal.
Four wins on the bounce – scoring 12 goals and conceding none – has reminded Linfield’s rivals that the all-conquering juggernaut is still firing.
Carvill has welcomed a return to form for the champions, but he is also aware their silveware credentials will be tested to the max at Solitude.
“The table doesn’t lie – Cliftonville are nine points above us,” he said.
“They have some top players so it is a huge test, but it is up to us to close the gap.
“Defeat would leave us 12 behind, but victory would ease us six points off the top, so it’s a big incentive.
“At the same time we can’t go into this game thinking about the table. Yes, we don’t want to be too far behind on Saturday night, but have to focus on our performance.
“People will say we are back, but there has to be a balance. When we were on a poor run of results, the players knew it wasn’t a crisis, so we can’t do the opposite now we have won four on the bounce.
“We aren’t suddenly a fantastic side. We know we can still improve.”
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