Michael Newberry programme article

Posted : 11th February 2023

‘Look at Linfield’ this week catches up with central defender Michael Newberry. The Blues’ number four has had to be patient for his opportunity this season, but since an injury to Jimmy Callacher on Boxing Day, Newberry has had a run of games and formed a strong partnership with Sam Roscoe – something he puts down to their close friendship off the pitch.

“I’ve been over the moon to finally get a run in the team, because I had to be patient in the first half of the season. Jimmy Callacher’s injury has opened the door for me to come in and I hope I have taken the opportunity. Of course, your head can drop when you aren’t playing but that’s the nature of football. You just have to keep working hard for the team, not just for yourself and that’s how I’ve dealt with it.

“Sam and I are good friends off the pitch as well and we spend time together outside of football. I would say that has definitely helped the two of us form a partnership without too much difficulty. We are both dedicated to performing and being successful for Linfield. I love it here and Sam would probably tell you the same. My girlfriend has recently moved over to Belfast with me, as she got a job here, so life is great and Linfield is a brilliant Club to play for.”

In terms of the team, Linfield are involved in a six-way battle for the Danske Bank Premiership but the 25-year-old admits the Blues must start picking up more wins against the rest of the top six, if they are to have a chance of winning the title for the fifth consecutive year, having won just two of their eleven League fixtures against top six teams so far this season.

“It’s no good just beating the bottom teams; you’ve got to beat the top teams, too. Unfortunately, we haven’t done that enough against the top six teams this season and we are well aware of that. In those big games, upon reflection, we have conceded poor goals, and there’s been matches where we haven’t been potent enough where we should have been turning one point into three with the opportunities created.

“The clinical edge that we have shown in recent 6-1 wins over Glenavon and Portadown is what we need to take into bigger games. You come away from Portadown thinking, Eetu has scored another hat-trick, Coops is back amongst the goals with a brace, and Chris McKee scoring, it should give them all a confidence boost, but we didn’t carry that on into last week’s game at Larne and that’s frustrating.

“We’ve got people in the changing room that have been here before… people like Jamie Mulgrew and Chris Shields who have 16 League winners’ medals between them, and the likes of Kirk Millar, Matthew Clarke and Jimmy Callacher who each have won five titles. Jimmy might be injured but he’s still coming to games and is in the changing rooms, being a vocal presence which helps us. At times like these, they lead by example and it’s perhaps one of the reasons why we tend to respond well to setbacks.”

Looking ahead to this afternoon’s match against League leaders Cliftonville at Windsor Park, the popular Geordie says Linfield must be better than they were in the reverse fixture last month on a night when they went down 1-0 at Solitude.

“When you play at home, naturally you feel a little bit more confident as the fans are behind you a bit more and we tend to get good crowds. The 1-0 defeat to Cliftonville at Solitude recently was frustrating and not good enough. We know we are better than that. Again, as a defender, I felt the goal we conceded was cheap to give away. The first half that night was nowhere near good enough from us, defensively and offensively. We worked on a lot of stuff at both ends of the pitch in training after that, and then we went and won 6-1 at Glenavon, so we hope for a similar response this week, because we were gutted to exit the Irish Cup last week and we must use that hurt to drive us on. Cliftonville are four points ahead of us, and we’re getting to the crunch time of the season, so this is a crucial game and we need to be clawing that gap back.”

Today is effectively the first of 13 ‘cup finals’ for David Healy’s team and the best wishes of everyone at the club are extended to Michael and his team mates, as they face up the challenge of a keenly contested derby game with local rivals, Cliftonville.
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