Kirk Millar programme article
Posted : 18th February 2023
‘Look at Linfield’ this week catches up with wing wizard Kirk Millar. Having beaten Cliftonville and then losing to Glentoran in the space of the last week, the former Oldham Athletic player says the Blues are frustrated by a lack of consistency.
“Last week we had a good win against Cliftonville and it was much needed. We dominated most of the match against Cliftonville who were the table-toppers at the time, so it was a good performance from us and we were pleased all round. Obviously, it was pleasing to play a part in the winner. I don’t know if it was an own goal or Matthew Clarke’s goal, but I’d like to give it to my mate Clarkey.
“At the time, we were aware of our record against the rest of the top six and we were determined to put it right. We still are itching to put that right, but we thought the win against Cliftonville could be a turning point. However, we then lost to Glentoran during the week and that brought massive frustration. We know that the vast majority of our remaining fixtures this season will be against top six opposition and the need to improve that record is very much on our minds.
“Beating Cliftonville last week, after losing to Larne on penalties the previous week showed that we have the character to lift ourselves again after setbacks. I’ve been here seven or eight years now, and nine times out of ten we always bounce back in the next game. Consistency is key and that’s what we are in search of.”
It’s been a testing season for the Blues who’ve endured some hard knocks, being eliminated from four separate competitions through penalty shoot-out defeats. Despite being four points adrift of leaders Larne who have a game in hand, Millar still believes the Blues can have a successful season.
“We are obviously aware that there’s a League Cup final not too far away, but we aren’t thinking about it. We were disappointed to be knocked out of the Irish Cup but we are trying to put full focus on our League challenge. It’s such a competitive title race between six teams and whilst everyone is talking about potential champions, I think it’s also very important for a lot of clubs to be in Europe, ourselves included.
“It’s soul-destroying as a Linfield player when you’re knocked out of any competition, especially when it’s on penalties, but it’s a lottery at the end of the day and a 50-50 chance. Unfortunately, we’ve just come away on the wrong side of it too many times.
“At Linfield, you have to win the League. It’s a hard thing to do but that’s the standards and expectations expected here. It’ll be a hard run-in for every team but I believe we have enough in the squad to push on. It’s important we bounce back and put a run of wins together.”
On a personal level, the 30 year-old winger has recently returned from a two-month injury setback when he missed twelve matches due to a hand fracture which required surgery. He’s returned in good form and is now excited at the thought of linking up with new, high-profile signing Kyle Lafferty, as the International striker builds up his match fitness.
“As a winger, it’s a delight to welcome a big-name striker like Kyle Lafferty to the team. Everyone knows I’m something of a traditional winger in the sense that I like to get crosses into the box, so it’s a dream for me to have someone of his pedigree here, and I have no doubt that he will score goals for us.
“I actually think the rest did me good when I was sidelined. For a good couple of seasons in a row there, I was playing maybe 40 or 50 matches a season, and despite being out for around two months this season, I think I’ve still made around 30 appearances this season. When I was out, I focused on keeping myself at a level of fitness and I think that’s paid off, hence why I have returned in decent form.”
In closing, Millar looks ahead to this afternoon’s clash at Windsor Park against a Carrick Rangers side who have already beaten the Blues this season, and he expects a hunger from the team in response to the midweek defeat against Glentoran.
“Carrick Rangers will try and make it hard for us. To be fair, we often get it tough against them. There’s an unpredictability in our games against Carrick, I feel. We tend to either get it tough or else we dominate, there doesn’t tend to be an in-between. They have put together a good squad and they signed well in January, so we need to be professional and approach it right. We know the importance of bouncing back, so hopefully we will make no mistake.
“We will look to be strong at home, as we generally have been over the last number of years. The pitch has probably been a leveller for some teams coming here, though, as it’s not the smoothest it’s ever been.”
Good luck to Kirk and the team for this afternoon’s important match, as Linfield aim to bounce back from the midweek setback and make progress in closing in on the table toppers Cliftonville and Larne who face each other today.