Injury-free Matthew Tipton insists he is “only getting started” after finally getting his Linfield career up and running in the past week.
Tipton followed up his debut goal for the Blues in Saturday’s win over Glenavon with a clinical brace against league leaders Cliftonville on New Year’s Day.
The deadly double helped the champions record a rousing 3-1 win over the Reds at Windsor Park – a result that keeps their title hopes alive and kicking.
Tipton’s season has been plagued with injuries following his summer move from Portadown.
The striker has had to contend with a calf injury, hip flexor strain and knee complaint during the course of the campaign.
The 32-year-old has been a frustrated spectator from the sidelines as Linfield have taken time to hit top gear.
But with a large chunk of the season still remaining, Tipton is determined to play his part.
“There is still a lot to play for. There are 14 league games left for us, and we have the Irish Cup still to fight for. We play Crusaders in the cup next week and that will be massive,” he said.
“In many respects my season is starting now. I would rather it had kicked-off in August, but I just kept picking up injuries and it stalled everything.
“I kept wanting to come back, but the manager told me to be patient and he was right. I had to get everything cleared up before coming back.
“I suppose I am like a new signing in January. I am just getting started.
“I hope I get a clear run to the end of the season and we will see what happens. There is so much to play for this season and I want to play a part.”
Tuesday’s win over Cliftonville saw Linfield close to within 10 points of the league leaders.
Tommy Breslin’s Reds still boast a game in hand, however, and are six points clear of second-placed Crusaders.
Tipton admits Cliftonville remain in the box-seat as far as the title race is concerned.
“We just have to keep plugging away and try and pick up as many wins as we can,” he added.
“Cliftonville are clear of the field and they have a game in hand. So it is their title to lose.
“I don’t know if Tuesday’s result will crank up the pressure. Questions might be asked of them in the weeks ahead.
“All we can do is focus on Linfield and try and heap as much pressure as we can on them. If we win games then we will hopefully do that.
“If we win our games then everything else will look after itself.
“It was important we won, but that we also sent out a statement – and I think we did that.
“We are on a good run at the minute. We are unbeaten in our last nine league games and won five of our last six.
“But we know we have to keep that momentum building. We have to go on a massive unbeaten streak and hope that Cliftonville slip up.”