IRISH LEAGUE: Linfield boss David Healy wants Blues to kick on against Carrick

David Healy

David Healy

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Linfield manager David Healy has demanded his side back up their County Antrim Shield success this weekend.

It was Healy’s first silverware as a manager and only the club’s second trophy in five seasons.

Now the boss is intent on ensuring that it is just the start of a new era at the Windsor Park club -and that continues on Saturday afternoon at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena.

“It’s a big game for us,” said Healy.

“I’m sure the pitch is going to be difficult and there are tight surroundings at Carrick but we have to stand up.

“It can’t be one step forward, we think we’ve cracked it and then we turn up on Saturday and underperform. That can’t happen.

“It can’t happen anymore because the players have proved that they’re better than that.

“The first words Andy Waterworth said when the players got together, before I spoke, were ‘we know we can be better.’

“They know it. If I didn’t think some of them were capable of better, I would give them such a hard time on occasions.”

Healy’s side are still seven points adrift of leaders Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table but after beating the north Belfast side on Tuesday night, the boss is still hoping he can set the Gibson Cup beside the County Antrim Shield in the Windsor Park trophy cabinet.

“Only Saturday will tell,” he said on whether or not the Shield success can spur his side to league glory.

“Carrick are fighting and scrapping for their lives, not only in terms of their relegation battle but I’m sure Aaron (Cllaghan) has a squad of players all fighting to make it into the cup final panel.

“They’ll all be doing their utmost to get the three points on Saturday.”

Carrick could certainly be forgiven for playing with an eye on the League Cup final just seven days later.

Boss Aaron Callaghan is hoping last Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Ards is a reflection that his side are hitting peak form at the perfect time.

“Any win helps to be fair,” he said.

“It’s difficult to get wins at this level but we’ve added a bit of experience to the squad and I think those guys are going to help our young players over the next few weeks with the experiences and knowledge that they’ve gained playing for other clubs.

“That’s particularly the case up front. We haven’t scored many goals but to get four on Saturday was a huge bonus for us.”

Carrick haven’t won back to back Premiership fixtures since way back in April. While Saturday will be a big ask, Callaghan is in positive mood.

He said: “We go into every match looking to win the game. The intensity that we’ve been training at over the last month has been incredible. We had a couple of results earlier on against Ballinamallard and Dungannon when we were close to winning but after a bad decision or an individual error and we’ve been beaten.

“I think that result against Ards has been coming. We will hope to continue that coming up to the cup final.”