David Healy’s praise for progress by his old Preston team-mate Stuart King
Stuart King’s first appearance at Windsor Park as a Premiership manager will offer an opportunity to renew old acquaintances with Linfield boss David Healy.
Both spent time together as players on the books at Preston North End and, two decades on, the former team-mates will compete for three points this weekend.
King’s successful start to senior management since leaving Irish League third-tier Banbridge Town for Carrick has been one of the talking points of the season’s opening weeks.
He takes Carrick to the home of the defending champions holding a one-point lead over Linfield having played an extra game.
Healy was full of praise for King as past team-mate and present manager.
“Carrick are above us in the table,” said Healy. “Ross Oliver (Linfield assistant manager) watched Carrick last Saturday and a couple of weeks ago, plus other people have watched them.
“Stuarty is lively, bubbly and non-stop in the games we’ve seen and he’s kicking every ball on the touchline.
“When I go back to when I first came in...you kick every ball, you head every ball.
“Stuart has that personality, a likeable personality and a brilliant lad.
“It’s good to see him doing well, he’s cut his teeth at Banbridge Town and now taken that next step.
“Fair play to Carrick for giving him the opportunity, it may have been easier to go to someone who has maybe more of a CV or pedigree in the Premiership.
“But they’ve given Stuarty the opportunity and he’s started really well for them.
“I look forward to seeing Stuart on Saturday - but I also look forward that, at 5 o’clock, Linfield have got the three points!
“We knew each other pretty well (when together at Preston North End), Stuarty was one of the younger players in and around.
“Stuarty probably didn’t get the gametime but even when he came back playing for Linfield and I used to see him he always had that little bit of quality.
“He could go by people and, more importantly for me, he’s someone who I like being in his company.”
Healy celebrated a midweek milestone as Co Antrim Shield success over Ards marked his 300th game in the dugout as Blues boss.
“It’s been an incredible journey for me and Ross (Oliver) has been here from day one,” said Healy on the official Linfield club website. “So many highs and the odd low...I feel as if we’ve improved - we got winners into the squad.
“If a recall my first interview, I said I wanted to bring more success to a hugely successful football club.
“I’ve thanked the players and staff who have played under me or worked with me and we look forward.”