The Saints return to Europa League action this Thursday as they host German giants Hannover 96 in Tallaght Stadium as the Inchicore side compete in the third qualifying round of the Europa League for the second successive year.
Thursday's high profile tie with the Bundesliga giants is the reward for Pats following their extra time victories over both ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar and Široki Brijeg – leaving the Saints as the League of Ireland's sole representative left in European competition.
Hannover remain in the middle of their pre-season preparations ahead of the beginning of the 2012/13 Bundesliga season on August 23rd when they open up their campaign with a home tie with FC Schalke 04.
For the Saints' squad however, the week break between the extra-time victory over Široki and Thursday's first leg against Hannover was greatly appreciated and something that midfielder James Chambers believes will have the players in great shape.
“The few days off at the weekend have been great as we've had a lot of games lately and the extra-time last week. So we're now feeling fresh, there's been a great buzz around this week and we're all just really looking forward to the game,” Chambers told stpatsfc.com.
“We've seen a bit of what they're like and they are a very good side. Every one of us just wants to put on a performance and play as well as we possibly can and as a team we want to do that. So fingers crossed we can do that.”
Whatever side manager Mirko Slomka chooses, he will have a wealth of international experience available to him, including American international Steve Cherundolo, recent Hungarian signing Szabolcs Huszti from Zenit Saint Petersburg and former Bayern Munich striker Jan Schlaudraff.
Speaking to stpatsfc.com, Saints' manager Liam Buckley stated that while his side were under no illusions of the calibre of Hannover 96 and the huge challenge they would pose, it was one that everyone at the club were relishing and that his side would concentrate on their own performance rather than worrying about the opposition.
“We have to make sure we play our way. When we get the ball, we've got to be even more patient in terms of keeping possession – our supporters have been great in understanding that and supporting us this season.”
“We've a tough game Thursday night, but we'll rely on what we've been working on for the past few months, and if we retain the ball, they're not going to score. So we cannot afford to give the ball away cheaply which we have done at times this season – if we can avoid doing that, we'll give ourselves a chance.”
Buckley reported that the Saints will be without the services of Stephen O'Flynn after breaking a rib, the striker is expected to be out for up to a month. Dean Kelly is also on the casualty list with a groin injury, while Mark Rossiter is a long term absentee with a knee injury.
Buckley however is hoping to have new signing Vinny Faherty registered in time for tomorrow night's clash.
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