Preview of Saturday’s behind closed doors game

Posted : 14th August 2020 at 23:33:16

Linfield return from an eventful week of UEFA Champions League action when they welcome EFL Championship side Stoke City FC to Windsor Park in a 'behind closed doors' pre-season friendly (2pm ko). The game will however be streamed live by Linfield TV.

Our visitors come to Windsor on the back of a four day training camp in Northern Ireland in preparation for another Championship season which kicks off in a fortnight. The Stoke manger Michael O'Neill needs no introduction for any local football supporter after his highly successful reign in charge of the NI International team. His tenure at Stoke began with the team deep in the relegation zone, to finally complete the season in the relatively comfortable position of 15th place in the table. With the quick turnaround into a new season Michael has been active with Scottish international Steven Fletcher (from Sheffield Wednesday) being his most recent signing. Expectations of success are high at the club with a place at least in the promotion play-offs being a difficult, yet not impossible target to aim for.

Linfield have had a successful yet somewhat slightly disappointing week in Switzerland, after FC Drita were forced to forfeit the final qualifying tie, when a second player in their squad unfortunately tested positive for the coronavirus. It was not the most satisfying way to win the tie (3-0) but one that Linfield will take, as the squad heads to Poland to face Legia Warsaw in the First Round of the competition.

Both mangers will be relishing the opportunity to put their players through a competitive ninety minutes of football on Saturday. It also provides a window for any recent signings to gel with new team mates and catch the eye of their respective managers. Unfortunately, the Linfield faithful will be unable to give the reception that Michael O'Neill is surely now to be afforded when attending future games at Windsor Park. Hopefully down the road in less turbulent times, they will be able to do just that! COYB!

Ken Garrett.
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