Linfield manager David Healy confirms key player ruled out for rest of the season after operation

Linfield continued their winning momentum heading into the Premiership split by beating Carrick Rangers 3-2 on Tuesday evening, but manager David Healy has confirmed one star player will be missing for the run-in as his side attempt to chase down leaders Larne.
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Joel Cooper, Ethan McGee and Kyle McClean all netted for the Blues as they won a seventh consecutive match, which still leaves them only two points behind Tiernan Lynch’s Inver Reds with five games remaining, including a crunch clash between the pair at Windsor Park on April 19.

However, that title bid has been handed a blow with the news that defender Euan East, who recently signed a new contract with the South Belfast club after impressing throughout a maiden Irish League campaign, will miss the rest of the campaign and most of pre-season through injury.

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The Blues have had to deal with issues to key players at different points throughout the season with Cooper making just a fourth start of 2024 at the Loughview Leisure Arena while Chris Shields is working his way back to full fitness.

Linfield manager David Healy. PIC: David Maginnis/Pacemaker PressLinfield manager David Healy. PIC: David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Linfield manager David Healy. PIC: David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

East had formed a formidable defensive partnership with Ben Hall, but after undergoing an operation, will likely be unavailable until the start of the new term in August.

"I know we haven't announced it and he was probably seen by the supporters on crutches at The Oval last week, Euan East had an operation last week which most certainly ends his season and the likelihood is that we won't see Euan until at least the back-end of pre-season or start of next season, which for us is disappointing,” Healy told the club’s media channel. "We'll prepare as we did for last week (for Glentoran this weekend) and may need to alter a couple because we had a couple missing tonight in Josh Archer, Chris McKee - hopefully we're awaiting good news to get Chris back in and around it.

"We were down there recently so know the type of game it's going to be. You're playing against your most bitter rivals. I always say about calm heads and we'll need that on Saturday again like we had last week."

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It was a third competitive game of the season for Healy’s men against Carrick with a 3-3 draw at Windsor Park followed up by a brace of one-goal victory margins.

"I'm delighted to get out of here with three points,” added Healy. “I mean this with the utmost respect...this is one of the hardest places to come.

"Credit to Stuarty (King) because they make it extremely difficult for you, they put you under a lot of pressure with how they play, have experienced players that understand their roles and jobs.

"The frustrating thing is, probably like Glentoran the other night, when Kyle scored we gave up a soft goal. We did that away to Institute to put ourselves on the back foot, we gave up a soft goal against Portadown in the League Cup final and took the lead against Glenavon and couldn't see it through.

"It's something I mentioned to the players in there that we need to make sure when you're 3-1 up that we need to manage the game a little bit better."

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