- Wednesday July 27th, 2011 @ 23:45
MAHON LOOKING TO BREAKTHROUGH DIFFICULT TASK
St Patrick's Athletic take a big step up in this season's European adventure when they face FC Karpaty Lviv in the Ukraine tomorrow (Thursday - kick off: 19.30 local time / 17.30 Irish).
The Saints' European draws have been unfavourable this season and this UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round 1st leg comes after trips to Iceland and Kazakhstan.
St Pats will be looking to progress through three rounds of a European competition for the first time and a place for the Play Off Round is up for grabs over the two legs.
Pete Mahon must plan without Stephen Bradley and Daryl Kavanagh who are both suspended but will be able to welcome back a number of players who sat out Saturday's scoreless draw with Sligo Rovers.
Evan McMillan and Brian Shortall will both start with Conor Kenna and Shane Guthrie, who both impressed in Sligo, dropping to the bench. Anthony Murphy, Paul Crowley, Ian Daly and David McMillan are all vying for the two spots left vacant due to the suspensions and a final decision on the starting eleven won't be made until after training this evening.
"The journey over was perfect and we're just having some rest now before we leave for the stadium and training at 6.30 local time.
"The players are all in good form and in a confident mood though it is very warm over here and that's a bit of a worry.
"With Bradley and Kavanagh suspended there are two openings in the side that we have to fill.
"At the back Conor Kenna and Shane Guthrie did very well up in Sligo but I think this game will require fitness levels that the lads are just a bit short of at the moment.
"We are lucky that we could rest Evan (McMillan) completely on Saturday and leave Brian Shortall on the bench but they'll both come in and start tomorrow.
"The side we're facing are not very well known at home but they have a quality team and are a big step up from the previous rounds.
"That's what happens though when you progress in Europe though and it's probably the reason why no Irish team has made the breakthrough yet.
"We're hoping to do that but it will be a massive task for us.
"We've seen a few DVDs and we have a fair idea how they set themselves up - in comparison to Kazakhstan we're well advanced in terms of preparation.
"You can get bogged down too much in analysis and preparation though so we're trying to get a balance.
"In Iceland we had a fair idea as we got a bit of help in researching ÍBV whereas in Kazakhstand we hadn't seen them at all before the away game.
"We'll be trying our best to do what we've done previously and keep the tie alive for the home game, as I said it's a massive task, but we'll give it a right good shot."