Linfield keeper Blayney wary of buoyant Crusaders

Alan Blayney
Alan Blayney was named Ulster Footballer of the Year last season

Linfield goalkeeper Alan Blayney is predicting a tight tussle with inform Crusaders in Saturday's Premiership encounter at Windsor Park.

The Blues saw their lead at the top reduced to four points on Tuesday night after a 1-0 defeat at Coleraine.

"Crusaders will be buzzing after winning the Irn-Bru Cup and it will be a hard game," said Blayney.

"We will go into the game with confidence and keen to bounce back from Tuesday's disappointment."

He added: "We know it's a massive month with Portadown and Cliftonville to follow this game with Crusaders.

"We just want to get back to winning ways on Saturday, and after that game and not before, we'll then turn our thoughts to the other big games ahead.

"We'll hopefully get a good result on Saturday and kick on from there."

The Crues are at full-strength for the visit to Windsor but manager Stephen Baxter is already looking ahead to the Irish Cup tie against Glenavon the following weekend.

"We're playing well and want to keep that momentum going against the Blues," said Baxter.

"However, we're not in the title race and we are working towards ther Irish Cup game at Glenavon - that is our priority."

Second-placed Portadown have defender Gary Breen back from suspension for the meeting with Lisburn Distillery at New Grosvenor.

Cliftonville are six points behind Linfield in third and Reds winger Martin Donnelly is banned for the trip to Ballymena United.

Coleraine striker Curtis Allen was suspended for the win over Linfield but he is available again as the Bannsiders prepare to take on Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park.

Carrick Rangers travel to face a Glenavon side missing banned midfielder Niall Henderson.

Glentoran midfielder David Howland sits out the game at Donegal Celtic as he serves a suspension.