IRISH CUP: Linfield striker Andy Waterworth preparing for Irish Cup acid test at Solitude

Andy Waterworth will be hoping to find the net at Solitude
Andy Waterworth will be hoping to find the net at Solitude

Andy Waterworth is under no illusions ahead of Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup showdown with Cliftonville – but insists he would have it no other way.

Linfield travel to Solitude looking to book their place in the semi-finals of the blue riband competition.

David Healy’s side has been handed a massive test to reach the last four – they are without a win in their last seven visits to the north Belfast venue.

“Solitude is one of the hardest draws we could have got, but the incentive is there to reach the semi-finals,” said Waterworth.

“It’s a huge motivation for us.

“What a result it would be if we could win at Solitude. It would really kick our season on. It’s the tie of the round and I know all the players are looking forward to it.

“We could have got an easier draw. We also could have been drawn at home, but it is what it is and these are the games you want to be involved in.

“That’s the reason you’re at big clubs. You want to play in big games and there’s no doubt this is a big game. It’s an Irish Cup quarter-final and it’ll be the featured match of the day in the media, so it’s a big stage for both sets of players.

“There hasn’t been much between the two sides this season, but we are determined to get ourselves in the draw for the next round.”

Cliftonville defeated Linfield 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Irish Cup back in 2009 before going on to lose to Crusaders in the final.

The last time the Reds and Blues met at Solitude in the competition was in 1967 when Linfield won 4-1.

Cliftonville defeated Immaculata and Sport and Leisure Swifts to reach the quarter-finals of this season’s cup.

Linfield edged past Ballymena United before routing Armagh City 7-0 to book Saturday’s Solitude date.

Waterworth admits he is expecting a tense afternoon in north Belfast, but is confident Linfield can get the job done against their cross-city rivals.

“Cliftonville are so good on the counter and we’ll have to be wary of that,” he said.

“Their wingers drift in and their full-backs bomb on, so we’ll have to be disciplined.

“They have attacking players who can hurt you, but then so do we.

“We’re a good side and we’ve built up some momentum in recent weeks, so we’ll go there full of confidence.”