Linfield manager David Jeffrey refusing to throw in the towel after Cliftonville defeat

Linfield manager David Jeffrey
Linfield manager David Jeffrey

David Jeffrey insists his players will be ready for “four big challenges” as they look to turn the tables on Cliftonville.

Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to the Reds means the destination of the Gibson Cup is now out of the Blues’ hands.

The champions sit one point clear with four games remaining.

Four victories for Tommy Breslin’s men and the title will be staying at Solitude.

“The players are absolutely despondent and down, but the difference is just a point, and this doesn’t decide the title.

“There are four games to go, four big challenges. Crusaders are motoring again, Portadown are desperate to get that third spot. There are big games coming up, so it isn’t over by any stretch,” Jeffrey said.

“It is tough for everyone. Today was a big test, and we expected that.”

This weekend’s Irish Cup semi-finals mean Linfield and Cliftonville both have a two-week break before resuming Premiership action.

The Reds host Glentoran on April 12 while Jeffrey’s Blues will travel to Crusaders.

“It is probably a help that we don’t have a game for two weeks,” Jeffrey said.

“Emotionally, a game like today can take a lot out of the players. So that was draining.

“Michael Gault is wrecked, and so are the others. So it won’t do any harm to dust ourselves down and prepare for another tough contest against Crusaders.

“They are concentrating on their league position and also the Irish Cup.”

Jeffrey believes his side should have been awarded a penalty on Saturday after Chris Curran appeared to handle inside his own box.

“I am frustrated, and I am talking about a refereeing decision once again. But as Raymond Crangle told me, read the rules of the game – it is in the referee’s opinion,” Jeffrey said.

“It was a turning point. We could have been 1-1 but then we are staring at 2-0.”