Mark Stafford says he is both delighted and surprised to have signed a new one year deal with Linfield.

The Blues defender had felt that this current season would be his last at the club but an impressive campaign has led to manager David Healy offering an extension to his stay at the Windsor Park club and former Ballinamallard captain Stafford feels he still has something to offer to the Blues.

“I was surprised to get offered another deal, I just thought that last year would be my last season at the football club to be honest, but the manager asked me to stay on for another year and the board want me to stay on and I’m really happy that they want me to be a part of it next season,” said the Irvinestown man.

“I signed the deal because I still think I have something to offer and as long as I feel that I will stay. Hopefully, if next season is my last we can get some silverware and leave the club in a good place,” he added.

Stafford, who has proven to be a popular figure at the Blues, felt his form has been good this season although a niggle kept him out of the last four league games before the league came to a halt.

“I was fit and healthy for most of the season and my form was good so I was happy with the way the season was going.

“I did pick up a bit of niggle in February and it is just one of those things when you are at Linfield that if you are not 100 percent the manager won’t take a chance on you so somebody else plays and more often than not they come in and do well because they have been waiting a long time themselves to get the chance.

“Overall, though I felt my form has been good,” he commented.

And the defender admits that it has been frustrating not to have been able to finish out the season as he believes that Linfield were just hitting top form.

When the season came to a stop, the Blues has opened up a four point gap ahead of Coleraine at the top of the table in their bid to retain the Gibson Cup.

“We wanted to get the job finished because we were on a good run. There were teams around us who were also on a good run as well like Coleraine but we were only starting to hit form at that stage of the season.

“We had been getting results before that but we hadn’t hit nowhere near the form that we hit in Europe and I think we had a bit of a hangover from Europe.

“After Christmas though we were really starting to play well so it is just disappointing that things have come to a stop.

“However, we all know that people’s health is more important than football,” he added.