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Geared up for a road test

Paddy McLaughlin was pleased with the attitude his side displayed in their last meeting with Linfield and knows more of the same will be required for tomorrow’s Danske Bank Premiership engagement.

Cliftonville return to Windsor Park just seven weeks after contesting a 1-1 draw at the venue, where Joe Gormley’s second-half header cancelled out the Blues’ early opener.

McLaughlin commended his players for their response to falling behind on that occasion and expects this weekend’s mission to demand just as much from them.

“Linfield will always be the biggest test, especially at Windsor,” he explains.

“In terms of the top end of the table, you obviously get big, big challenges from Coleraine, Crusaders, Larne and teams like that but Linfield are the ones who, year after year, provide everyone with the biggest test and are always the team you need to beat and be better than if you want success.

“We’ve been going along quite well and we’re coming into a really tough run of fixtures but we’re looking forward to them and they don’t come any more challenging than the Blues at Windsor.

“We haven’t got the biggest squad in the League but one thing we have is quality right throughout, so when one goes out, one comes in but we can’t really afford too many more injuries because we’re close to being down to the bare bones.

“We’re just trying to do the best we can every week that passes and see where it takes us. We’ll try and stay among the leading pack as long as we can and that’s it, it’s just about doing the basics as best we can and enjoying it.”