Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey is relishing the visit of defending Danske Bank Premiership champions Linfield - despite his side’s current struggle for form.
Injury-hit United have now gone eight games without a league win but Jeffrey considers Linfield’s visit on Tuesday a challenge to embrace.
“For ourselves, we have got to stand up and be counted and give it a real crack,” said Jeffrey. “The reality is that whether it was this year at Windsor Park or last year they were always very close (games) but I am total realist and that while they were very close, we couldn’t get the better of Linfield and that was down to simply the superior quality they have within their ranks - that’s the long and short of it.
“We talk about thin lines and fine margins and we’re talking about one chance being taken or one tackle being made, so we know how good a team they are.
“But for me it probably couldn’t come at a better time - these are the challenges which you want to be involved in every week.
“Last year we were blessed as the team named itself, week in, week out, there weren’t too many selection headaches, because players just moved from game to game.
“This year, we’re chopping and changing all the time and that’s not helpful.
“We just hope to get them back.
“We just have to get through this period, people shouldn’t forget we’ve already got through a round in Europe this year, we’re actually in our sixth final; the play-off final, the League Cup first year, the League Cup and Co Antrim Shield in the second and League Cup last year and the Co Antrim this year.
“And a top-six league finish.
“So we have to put things in perspective.
“David (Healy) will be looking for a response from his players after their defeat at Glenavon, but regardless of that we know how tough it is, Linfield are an absolutely quality team, they have so many good players.
“The league champions are coming here and they have strengthened from last year and they are a very, very good side, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”