Linfield’s Chris Shields ‘perfect’ for Irish League says ex-Dundalk team-mate
Chris Shields’ summer exit after almost a decade at Dundalk that featured a host of medals and memories proved a social media hit.
Footage of fans igniting flares, chanting in support of Shields and displaying banners of gratitude offered a glimpse of the proud place the midfielder holds in the League of Ireland outfit’s rich modern history.
With 349 appearances and a double-figure tally of trophies now in the past, Shields is attempting to build a fresh legacy in Belfast blue.
And Brian Gartland, the past Portadown player and current Dundalk defender, is backing Shields to shine at Linfield and become a fans’ favourite with the defending champions.
Shields’ first introduction to life at Linfield arrived in the summer European campaign but a full appearance on his domestic debut helped the Blues kick off the Premiership title defence with victory over Cliftonville.
Now Shields should step out at Shamrock Park - Gartland’s Irish League home from 2011 to 2013 - aiming to push on this weekend from early progress.
Gartland shared in a string of silverware success with Shields, enjoying a full appreciation of his discipline and drive from the perfect vantage point in the Dundalk defence just yards behind his team-mate’s presence patrolling the engine room.
And Gartland is confident Shields’ skillset will prove a perfect Premiership transfer.
“Chris’ physical strengths and his ability should all really suit the Irish League,” said Gartland of the Bangor-based player. “I think he is the perfect signing for Linfield...he ticks so many boxes on and off the pitch.
“He is arriving at Linfield at 30 years old but a good age with so many strong years ahead, plus living so much closer to the club is another boost that can only help him.
“I spent eight or nine seasons with Chris at Dundalk and, speaking from a selfish viewpoint, am really disappointed to see him leave.
“He is one of the funniest people I’ve shared a dressing room with and someone able to bring a bit of humour to situations is so important at a club competing for the big prizes.
“As a centre-back, having Chris play in front of me in that number six pivot role for so long was brilliant.
“He was phenomenal at reading situations for us and cleaning up danger in midfield.
“There are a lot of demands on Linfield players when it comes to winning and pressure to deliver silverware...but Chris is used to that environment and superb around the squad.
“Stepping out on the big stage will not phase Chris at all and that mindset is also invaluable.
“You look at the pictures of his final game with Dundalk and how the fans turned out in such big numbers to give him a fitting send-off.
“People always respect someone they can see going out and putting 100 per cent commitment on the pitch.
“Chris is a guy who steps out on to the pitch on a matchday and is able to find that extra yard because it’s a competitive game.”
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