Jimmy Callacher programme article

Posted : 2nd January 2023

Linfield stalwart Jimmy Callacher believes the Blues are entering 2023 high on confidence and in this exclusive interview with ‘Look at Linfield’, he says he believes competition for places is one of the key reasons behind the improved results and defensive record in the last two months.

“We were poor at the start of the season but we regained some belief and we knew that if we could put a few wins together, that we’d be okay. We pride ourselves on clean sheets and over the past two months we’ve had our fair share, whilst we’ve been taking our chances, when they come along.

“Sam Roscoe has been excellent beside me; he’s a brilliant player, as are Michael Newberry and Ben Hall. I know Ben has been injured but I think the competition for places has driven performance levels higher because you know you won’t play, if you’re not performing and that applies to the four of us. As I say, Sam is doing really well but there’s a long way to go in the season and like everyone else, he’ll keep his feet on the ground and keep working hard.”

Jimmy has been in good form too and netted his first goal this season in a recent 2-0 win away to Ballymena United in what happened to be his 350th appearance for the Club, although the 31 year-old says clean sheets are what he cherishes rather than scoring goals.

“Scoring goals, for me, doesn’t overly matter – I’d rather have clean sheets. Of course, they’re nice when they come along. A lot of it is luck. You always try to put the ball in the net when you go forward at set-pieces but sometimes, it falls your way and often it doesn’t. When it does fall, you have to make sure you make the most of it. I’d rather have 20 clean sheets over 10 goals, though it is important that we are all chipping it with goals.”

The experienced central defender has won five league titles, amongst other honours in his nine years at Windsor Park and during that time, the Blues have been traditionally strong after Christmas. Asked why that might be, Callacher wasn’t totally sure but he believes competing for honours requires a measured approach, as Linfield aim to start 2023 on a high against Oran Kearney’s Coleraine this afternoon.

“Home or away, Coleraine always give us a tough match. They've been in good form and aren't far away and I’m sure they'll want to stay in the chasing pack. The top six is all very condensed at the minute and we understand where we are. We are now in January, so there’s a long way to go, regardless of where you are in the season. I know it’s an old cliché but it literally is a case of taking one match at a time and letting the table take shape, or getting into the next round of the cup.

“Seasons are long and very tough – you have just got to keep ploughing away and stay in and around where you need to be until the end of the year and then in and around February you can assess where you are, before making a real run for it, if you’re going for the title. I don’t know why exactly we have been so strong after Christmas in my time here but it’s a good habit to have.”

Incredibly, today’s clash with the Bannsiders will be Linfield’s 39th competitive match of the season to date and the busy schedule continues with seven further fixtures to be played this month. Callacher, however, is confident that the Blues can embrace that challenge and can be helped by the return of players, such as Jordan Stewart who returned two weeks ago from a four-month injury absence.

“The games have been coming regularly and they will continue to come thick and fast in January. If you ask any player, they’ll tell you they want to be playing matches, rather than training, so the more the merrier. Personally, I signed to be Full-Time and I don’t miss a session; I train every day and physically, I am getting by just fine with the busy schedule.

“We’ve had a big injury list and it’s always a boost when players come back from injury. We have gradually been getting players back, like Jordan Stewart recently. Everyone knows how good he is and he will be brilliant for us over the next lot of months. We have played so many matches and yet we are still only just past the halfway point, so when you welcome players back, it does really spur you on and let’s hope the other injured players will soon follow.”

Vice-captain Jimmy also paid tribute to the club captain, Jamie Mulgrew who recently made his 700th appearance for the club. “Jamie deserves all the accolades for his service and dedication to this club. He’s a tremendous example and role model to young players and he’s as hungry as ever to win games and trophies for this club.”

Best wishes to Jimmy and all his teammates for what we all hope will be a winning start to hopefully, another successful year for Linfield Football Club
Next Match
Queen's University
League Cup
Kick-off : 3rd October @ 7:45pm
Venue : Windsor Park
Last Match
Newry City
Irish Premier League Match Report