Ross Larkin programme interview

Posted : 17th October 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for us all, but one man who is opting to take positives from it is Linfield defender Ross Larkin. The central defender has good reason to be cheerful after a busy few months, having signed a new contract, started all of Linfield’s European fixtures and enjoyed a Northern Ireland U21 call-up.

Larkin – who signed from Portadown in June 2019 – recently signed a two-year extension to his current contract which would have expired next summer. The Newry native says he’s glad to get it finalised and is delighted to be staying put with the Premiership champions.

“I am delighted to get it sorted. I’m very happy with my decision and looking forward to continue playing for Linfield for at least another three seasons and hopefully, more success will follow.

To play in the European games this season was again a great experience. Obviously, we didn’t get as far as we would have liked but on a personal level, starting all three games was a major plus point and it’s great that the manager trusts in me to play in games of that magnitude.”

After a very impressive performance in a Champions League Qualifier away to Legia Warsaw, experienced defender Mark Stafford heaped praise on the young defender and stated his belief that Ross will be a big player for Linfield in years to come. That’s high praise from a man of Stafford’s calibre and Larkin says it’s great for his development to play alongside and learn from the experienced players at Windsor Park.

“The likes of Jimmy Callacher, Mark Stafford, Mark Haughey and Ryan McGivern are very good with helping me learn and develop. They have plenty of experience and are keen on giving me advice, both in training and in matches. I am always eager to learn.”

Of course, Linfield have had a European campaign to focus on in recent months, however, the scheduling was very stop-start. Now, the resumption of the Danske Bank Premiership after seven months brings much craved-regular football back and Larkin is relishing it.

“Lockdown was a frustrating period for everyone in the team, not being able to play or train for over three months. I feel the lack of weekly competitive games that we usually have around this time of year has naturally proven difficult for the team to adapt with. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to getting back to the normality of domestic football.

“I am very much looking forward to the fans coming back. It doesn’t feel the same without the atmosphere and support during games. I feel they will give us that extra lift and drive. It was great to have them there against PSNI and will be good to hopefully have them here against Carrick Rangers this afternoon.

“The main thing is to try and be successful with the team and win as many games as possible. The league seems to be getting more competitive so it won’t be easy to defend the title again but we are up for the fight. It certainly won’t be an easy game against Carrick Rangers this afternoon. I think everyone knows how well Carrick performed in their first season back up in the Premiership, so I’m sure they will look to improve on that this year. It's always important to get off to a good start to build momentum and confidence for the rest of the season.”

On the international scene, Ross had the proud honour of representing his country when he was called up to the Northern Ireland U21 squad, along with Linfield midfielder Kyle McClean. Ross made his debut under caretaker manager Andy Crosby in a 2-0 win away to Malta where he had the perfect debut, scoring a goal, winning a penalty and keeping a clean sheet. A second appearance followed as he played in a 1-0 defeat against Denmark at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

“It was a proud moment personally to be called up to the under 21s off the back of the European games. I was happy enough to get picked for the first game against Malta never mind score, so was delighted with how it went.”

Congratulations to Ross on his international call-ups and his recent Linfield contract extension, and best wishes to the 21 year-old for the season ahead.
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