Linfield boss David Healy labels Windsor Park surface as a 'muck heap' but expresses joy at landing main target during January transfer window

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Linfield manager David Healy believes the current condition of the playing surface at Windsor Park is a concern heading into the business end of the season.

The Blues chief made the comments after the Irish Cup quarter-final draw was made which sees his side face Institute away from home in the next round.

When asked why he preferred an away draw to a home one, the former Northern Ireland international voiced his concerns about the pitch at Windsor Park which was only re-laid last summer.

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Healy labelled the pitch as a "muck heap" and remarked he will be interested to see if any more "strands of grass" have grown on the playing surface before they play at Windsor Park again at the end of the month.

Linfield manager David Healy was critical about the playing surface at Windsor Park following his side's Irish Cup victory against Ballymena UnitedLinfield manager David Healy was critical about the playing surface at Windsor Park following his side's Irish Cup victory against Ballymena United
Linfield manager David Healy was critical about the playing surface at Windsor Park following his side's Irish Cup victory against Ballymena United

"For me, the pitch is a general concern moving forward," he said after watching his side record a 2-0 success against Ballymena United last Saturday.

"That was a new pitch laid in June or July last year, so if we're getting six or seven months out of a brand new pitch on that surface and that's the standard it is at the minute - I'm asking questions.

"There were pieces in the game today and bits last week were credit to Ballymena who have good players like Dylan Boyle and Fraser Taylor wanting to pass the ball, but by the time they received the ball, it's bouncing off their knees.

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"Similarly, against Dungannon, they have neat and tidy players on the ball and I'd like to think we are pretty good in possession but you're challenged on playing on a muck heap like that.

"I'm pleased we're going to be away to Institute. I think we have three away games now starting at Glenavon where Mourneview Park is more or less than a decent pitch, we're away to Coleraine, away to Solitude and then we will be back here at the end of the month to see if there's any more strands of grass growing on the full pitch at Windsor Park.

"The disappointing thing is that we haven't trained on that pitch in months. We have been accused in the past of over-usage on the pitch which is certainly not the case.

"It's great there's going to be another international fixture here this month, there will be a Schools' Cup final on it and a League Cup final on it.

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"The groundsmen will be ducking for cover but I don't think it's on them half of the time. They are there to maintain the pitch and I have a good relationship with them both.

"Whatever it has cost that pitch to lay, if I was laying my lawn and I was paying £1000 to have my grass in good condition and after three or six months the grass is fading away, I'd be chasing somebody looking for my money back."

Linfield had a relatively quiet January transfer window as only one new face arrived through the door at Windsor Park.

However, whilst admitting his side tried to bring in other reinforcements, Healy was pleased their got the number one target secured as Ethan McGee joined from Dungannon Swifts.

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He further outlined how three players who are close to returning from injury will also add to his options for the final four months of the campaign.

He added: "I am delighted with the acquisition we brought in in Ethan McGee.

"Ethan is a brilliant player for now and he's going to be even better moving forward, so that main bit of business we wanted to do in January got done.

"Other parts of it and I've heard from other managers like Warren Feeney, it can be frustrating as if you sign an out-of-contract player it's easy because they're out out-of-contract.

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"But the problem comes then due to the fact they'll be unfit, not training with a club, not playing enough games and it takes the whole of January and possibly into February to get them fit and you would only have them fit for three to five games after that.

"Like all clubs, nobody wants to lose somebody who is playing in their team and the valuation of the player is a little bit more, so the main business we wanted to get in was Ethan McGee.

"Did we have a nibble at a couple of others? Yes, we did. But again, that was to add to the squad and to add to the numbers but we haven't got them in.

"One thing that we do have is Stephen Fallon back, Chris Shields got 70 minutes today and Josh Archer is doing extremely well.

"Rhys Annett, Michael Newberry and Ben Hall all missed out through injury but they aren't long-term, hopefully they'll all be back within seven to 14 days.”