FOOTBALL: Linfield boss David Healy wants respect as Blues face Celtic

Linfield boss David Healy watches as his players train yesterday
Linfield boss David Healy watches as his players train yesterday

Respect beyond the result is the goal for Linfield boss David Healy when his players step out alongside Glasgow giants Celtic at Windsor Park.

Healy’s Linfield side will turn from domestic dominance to continental competition but the former Northern Ireland international accepts the size of task facing his players.

However, Healy will measure the progress of Linfield beyond the final whistle across either leg of the second qualifying round test.

“We said once the draw was made, we knew how difficult the task would be,” he said. “We spoke about enjoying it.

“Hopefully we’ll turn up and be organised.

“We’ve done all we can, the players are well aware of the respect we’ll give them, but hopefully come the game and second leg, we’ll have earned the respect of Celtic.

“They are strong, physical, they’re fit, they’re organised and Brendan Rodgers has them playing in a way that Celtic Football Club and fans expect in general.

“I’m sure other teams have weaknesses, but it’s trying to find them.

“It’s down to us to try and expose them, but no team in Scotland found the key to the door last year.

“It’s a difficult task, but we’ll go out, try and be organised and do our utmost for our club and proud supporters.”

Healy accepts a responsibility for Linfield outside the confines of the two dates.

“That’s what it’s all about, especially the way our coefficient in Northern Ireland is,” he said. “It hasn’t been improved over a number of years, because we haven’t had a Shamrock Rovers or Dundalk getting into the Europa League (group) stages.

“We’re hopefully going to do the country proud.

“We’re playing for a lot of pride, these boys might never get the chance to play against Celtic again.

“I might never get the chance to manage against Celtic again, so it’s all about enjoying the occasion, they’ve been told to embrace the moment.

“We’re massive underdogs, we’re probably not expected to run them close, so there’s no pressure on us.”

Healy is hoping the added experience of players like Northern Ireland international Roy Carroll and captain Jamie Mulgrew can aid efforts.

“There’s nothing to lose but a lot to fear,” said Healy. “But once the players cross the white line, it just becomes another game.

“It’ll be down to players like Jamie, who has been here a long time, and experienced lads at the back, our goalkeeper and Andy Waterworth who finished the season on fire, to go out and make sure we’re strong, honest and hard working.

“It’s hard to take away the surrounding hype, it’s all everybody has been talking about, the players are human beings.

“Roy Carroll is massive but down the spine of the team we’ve an experienced group of players, guys who have been at higher levels and who have been capped internationally.

“Again, they are going to be crucial so it’s not just a case of turning up and getting caught like a rabbit in the headlights.”