IRISH LEAGUE: David Healy calls for Linfield players to prove their mettle against champions Crusaders

Linfield scrambled to a contentious draw against Coleraine on Wednesday night
Linfield scrambled to a contentious draw against Coleraine on Wednesday night

Linfield manager David Healy has called on his players to prove their mettle against Crusaders at Seaview on Saturday.

The Blues have won just once in their last NINE visits to the Shore Road – a 3-2 victory in April 2014 shortly before David Jeffrey’s departure.

Last season Healy’s side lost twice at the north Belfast venue, including a 2-0 loss in April which all but ended their title challenge.

Saturday presents another acid test for Linfield.

Crusaders have started their title defence with two crushing wins against Ballymena United (6-0) and Carrick Rangers (4-1).

The Blues opened their account with a gutsy win away to Ballinamallard United before scrambling a controversial late draw against Coleraine in midweek.

“We have to ask questions why we haven’t won at Seaview for a long time. We need to go there and be confident,” Healy said.

“We need to puff out our chests and send out a message that ‘we’re here to play’.

“If we go with the right mentality and play with the belief we are a good team and have good players, we can get the right result.

“Crusaders are a good side, but I firmly believe we are a good side if we do things right. We will be going there to set out our stall to get a result.”

Linfield had to rely on a late Aaron Burns goal from a contentious corner to snatch a point against Coleraine on Wednesday night.

Healy questioned the hunger and desire of his players in the aftermath of the result, and has demanded improvement when they step out against the Premiership champions tomorrow.

“If we turn up with the same mental attitude we showed against Coleraine, we’ll get well beaten,” he added.

“It’s my job to ensure the players are lifted and ready to put in a big performance.

“Seaview is a tough place to go and Crusaders are a good side. They’re champions for a reason and they have started the season in good form.

“I was disappointed with the lack of heart and desire we showed against Coleraine and we need to improve. If we can’t get ourselves up for a game like this, there’s no point being at this club.”

Despite questions being posed at Linfield’s character already this season, Healy is confident his players will rise to the challenge.

“I know questions will be asked are the players good enough? I have a firm belief in the players, but only if they show the character I hope they have,” the former Northern Ireland striker added.

“The stuff that I see in training. They are all good footballers on the training pitch, but ultimately they are going to be judged at 3pm on Saturday.”