David Healy has big plans for Linfield

Linfield manager David Healy. ''Mandatory Credit �INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Porter
Linfield manager David Healy. ''Mandatory Credit �INPHO/PressEye.com/Jonathan Porter

Linfield may be reflecting on a record 53rd Irish league title, but they certainly will not be resting on their laurels according to boss David Healy.

The Blues brought the curtain down on a memorable campaign on Saturday as a youthful Linfield side fought back from a goal down to earn a draw at Coleraine.

While some of those players may be part of the long-term future at Windsor Park, Healy already has plans in place for the short term with the major goal being retaining the Gibson Cup.

“Plans for next season have been in place for a while now,” he said. “The plans are always to improve the squad and the club, that’s my job as Linfield manager.

“There will be changes. Players in and around the changing room at the minute may find themselves out of it come next season.

“The lads have been incredible this year, magnificent with how they went about it, but you’re always looking to bring good players in.

“Come the start of pre-season we see how people are looking when they come back, hopefully they will be fit and well and ready to go for another long, hard, tough campaign, when we are going to have to do better than we did the last time to try and retain the title.

“It’s going to be a lot harder next year that’s for sure.”

Healy made nine changes to the team which dismantled Cliftonville 5-1 last week.

The young players didn’t look out of place on the day, a point proved with 15-year-old Charlie Allen coming off the bench to set up the equaliser for Daniel Reynolds.

Healy was delighted to be able to throw in so many young stars in the starting line up.

“People often say that some clubs give young players more opportunities than Linfield,” said Healy. “My argument would be that not every manager or every club has the same demands I have as a manager here or we have as a football club.

“It’s sometimes risky to play young players and you have to pick and choose the right moments to play them.

“I go back to when we first started to play Paul Smyth a few years ago, we just didn’t throw him in.

“It was a slow-burner, we brought him in from the Swifts to be in and around the first-team training, we didn’t want to get him too far ahead of himself.

“I’m fully aware of all the players who were playing today.

“We have seen them play on numerous occasions for the under 16s, under 18s and the Swifts this year, so we knew what they were capable of.

“I think they all showed glimpses today that they all could be decent players at a good level like this going forward.”

Coleraine boss Rodney McAree had special praise for Dylan Davidson, who scored an excellent goal to put the Bannsiders ahead.

It was his first goal since making the move from Glentoran.

“It has been hard for Dylan,” he said. “He was cup-tied when he joined the club and it has been very stop-start for him and it has been difficult to get him going.

“I know the lad is very talented and I thought he had hit his effort too early when there was so much space in front of him.

“It was a fantastic finish and I was delighted for him.

“He has a great left foot and it has been tough for him since coming home from Preston North End.

“Dylan has had to adjust to life in the Irish League and when he was at Glentoran he maybe did not get as many opportunities as he would have liked.

“He is a young lad and if we can get his confidence back and a smile on his face then I have no doubt that the club will reap the reward of that.”