Linfield boss David Healy’s delight at ‘razor-sharp’ Shayne Lavery
Linfield boss David Healy believes striker Shayne Lavery can become one of the best in the business.
The 23-year-old displayed all his predatory instincts by bagging a sensational hat-trick at Windsor Park on Saturday - bringing his goal tally for the season to 17.
Although it was the Blues’ biggest win of the season, one that increased their lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table to five points, Carrick Rangers offered little in way of opposition.
The ailing East Antrim club were simply blown away by David Healy’s hungry side, with Lavery the tormentor-in-chief in the 7-0 win.
He was given a well-earned rest just after the hour, replaced by Andy Waterworth - but he had already inflicted unrepairable damage by that stage.
Lavery was joined on the scoresheet by Kirk Millar and Jordan Stewart, while Healy’s two January signings, Michael Newberry and Cammy Palmer, each pocketed first goals for the club.
“Shayne has been razor-sharp now for some time,” purred Healy. “Without sounding disrespectful, he should be scoring goals, given the quality of the deliveries that are given to him.
“I have a lot of time for Shayne, not only as a player but as a person.
“He has all the attributes to be a top player, but he is still developing.
“If any centre-forward at whatever level they are playing at is consistent week in, week out and scoring 25 to 30 goals, they’ll move to a better level.
“Shayne’s consistency will come, but his all-round game has improved greatly...the world is his oyster.”
On his team’s overall showing, Healy added: “I was pleased with the level of performance, we started the game really well.
“It was just what we needed after what has been a tough run of games.
“The title race is still wide open at the minute and there are teams still playing catch-up with any amount of games in hand, so we will continue to move on to the next game against Dungannon.”
New boy Palmer was given his first starting shirt since moving to the Blues in the mid-season transfer window and he grabbed the chance with both hands.
“I didn’t play much football before I joined Linfield,” said the former Rangers man. I had in an injury when I came back from America in October.
“We hadn’t the benefit of any reserve games to help build up my match fitness.
“I feel I’m now getting stronger and I’m starting to grow into the Linfield way...the goal was a bonus.
“It was a vital win, we’ve got to keep pushing forward and not get too ahead of ourselves because that’s when things can go against you.”
It was another disastrous day at the office for struggling Carrick Rangers boss Niall Currie, who lost midfielder Michael Smith at half-time following an alleged dressing room bust up with a member of the coaching staff.
“I can’t say too much, it’s an internal matter and it will be dealt with by the Board,” said Currie. “The club will release a statement on the matter.
“We knew it would be a tough day, coming to Windsor Park, especially as we had a lot of changes, we rested a few players and we had three or four injuries.
“We didn’t help each other, which disappointed me.
“We knew early doors that we were being overloaded in wide areas and we didn’t do anything about it.
“I’ve managed Championship teams here at Windsor Park that have done better than we did.
“I know we had a bit of disruption, but I don’t think there is any excuse for a performance or a result like that.
“We have been conceding poor goals for too long.
“We didn’t do the right things and were guilty of some kamikaze stuff.”
LINFIELD: Johns, Stafford, Newberry (Nasseri, 69), Callacher, Stewart, Millar, Lavery (Waterworth, 62), Mulgrew (Clarke, 64), Quinn, Palmer, Cooper.
Subs (not used): Moore, McGivern, Pepepr, Archer.
CARRICK RANGERS: McGinty, Forsythe, Neale, Rodgers, Smith (Jenkins, 46), Gordon, Glendinning, Anderson, Storey (Gibson, 70), Ramsey, Friel (Millar, 57).
Subs (not used): Hogg, Loughran, Chapman, Cherry.
REFEREE: Ian McNabb.
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