IRISH LEAGUE: It’s win or bust says Linfield boss Healy

Stephen Lowry netted the winner in last week's Irish Cup semi-final. Now he has the champions in his sights. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Stephen Lowry netted the winner in last week's Irish Cup semi-final. Now he has the champions in his sights. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye

Linfield manager David Healy admits tomorrow’s crunch Danske Bank Premiership clash against Crusaders at the National Stadium at Windsor Park is a ‘must win’ for his side.

The Blues go into the encounter trailing league leaders Crusaders by four points, so a win for Healy’s men would have them breathing down the neck of the Shore Road outfit.

And Healy admits defeat is not an option for his team.

“I have stated for weeks now that Crusaders are huge favourites for the league,” he said.

“They are four points clear and they have not lost that many games. We need to beat them.

“If we lose - the league is over and if we draw - the league is over.

“So we need to win at Windsor because if you look at the stats from the last few years - they lose very few games after the split.

“We are up against it and they are huge favourites and we are huge underdogs.

“And it will take an almighty collapse from Crusaders to let us in.”

And the former Northern Ireland international believes last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Dungannon Swifts will spur his side on against the Crues.

“It was important we won against Dungannon because we would go into the game against Crusaders and it would be make or break.

“But we are through to the final. That keeps the players hungry and everyone wants to be fit and wants to be part of it.

“The game against Crusaders is huge and we have to win. A defeat or draw is no good to us,” he added.

And Linfield midfielder Stephen Lowry thinks ‘the double’ is still on for the Blues but it will not be an easy task for the Windsor outfit.

“We have put ourselves into a good position. Since Coleraine beat us we have not been beaten,” he said.

“We are in a great run and credit to the players, we have had the same bunch of players and we have done well.

“But when you are at Linfield you are there to be shot at and when you lose one game - it’s a crisis.

“Against Ards in our last 14 games, that is the only draw we have had and the rest have been wins.

“After the Ards game, we thought we were the worst in the world and we were so disappointed.

“It was unbelievable the feeling we had after that match but we have gone on and won every game since.

“And it has been challenging closing in on Crusaders because how many times this season have we come in and heard that Crusaders have nicked a last minute goal?

“It has happened to us three or four times and is hard to keep going mentally.

“But the manager must take credit as he never gets a head of himself and no matter how well we are doing he is always keeping us grounded.

“We have got the gap down to four points and it is a nice feeling as we can also look forward to the Irish Cup final.

“We have a chance of winning the double and we will be fighting on all fronts to do that.”