Andrew Waterworth is relishing much-anticipated clash with Dundalk

Andrew Waterworth is looking forward to the test against Dundalk
Andrew Waterworth is looking forward to the test against Dundalk
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Andrew Waterworth is relishing tonight’s clash with League of Ireland champions Dundalk at Windsor Park (7.45pm) in the Unite the Union Cup.

Dundalk have been the dominant force in the south for a number of years, and narrowly missed out on the ‘Treble’ on Sunday losing to Shamrock Rovers on penalties in the FAI Cup final.

And Waterworth is looking forward to the chance of testing himself against the high-flying Lilywhites.

“You want to play in the top competitions, it’s good from the supporters’ point of view and for the players too,” he said.

“I’m really excited by it, I watched Dundalk on Sunday they weren’ at their best but they’re a great team, we will probably go in as underdogs.

“As a player you want to test yourself against these teams to see where you’re at.”

Linfield boss David Healy has bemoaned the format of the competition with the second leg scheduled for Oriel Park on Monday night.

Waterworth can understand the concerns expressed by his manager with more league games having to be rescheduled.

“I can understand David’s point of view because we’re nearly a victim of our own success, we’re playing catch up in the league as it is and people don’t take that into account,” he said.

“It is physically demanding because it’s not a full-time league yet.

“I actually like the format. The gaffer has given us a couple of days off to prepare for it because we have played a lot of football of late.

“We have a big enough squad and we can manage it, and we go into every game aiming to win it.”

The 33-year-old hit a very impressive milestone in last week’s victory over Carrick Rangers in the Danske Bank Premiership,” he said.

“It was my 500th start in Irish League football.

“I wasn’t really aware of it until Marshall Gillespie had tweeted me on Saturday night.

“When you’re ten years into your Irish League career you forget how many games you’ve played!”

David Healy says he will be making a number of changes to his Linfield team for tonight’s clash.

The Blues have had a packed schedule of late as they bid to catch up on their rearranged Danske Bank Premiership games following their extended Europa League run at the start of the season.

Healy says it’s important to give key players a rest following a busy run of games.

“The players have played a lot of games so far,” he said.

“Our team will definitely change from last week’s win over Carrick Rangers.

“We can’t kept persevering with the same players and run the risk of them picking up a serious injury.

“The team will be changed, and that’s not to be disrespectful to the competition, but I don’t want to be standing here come April having only won he United the Union Cup, it’s not going to keep me in a job that’s for sure.

“The changes will hopefully give us a freshness, as well as giving us an opportunity to have a look at a few players.

“It’s important that when they are given the chance, especially against a good team like Dundalk, they hopefully go and grab it.

“They got a break during the week in terms of training.

“Some of them played for the Reserves on Wednesday night, hopefully they will then be available to play some part in the tie against Dundalk.”

Dundalk come into the tie after narrowly missing out on a domestic Treble.

Boss Vinny Perth says it is important the players pick themselves up again after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Shamrock Rovers in Sunday’s FAI Cup final.

“We’ve got two big games and our players, no matter what happened on Sunday, would have behaved, would have looked after themselves and we’ll do that again,” he said.

“The All-Island competition has been sort of dented this week and hopefully if we put on a show, it might give people a taste of what it could be, so we look forward to the Linfield games.”