Foster calls on Dundalk to raise game for Sofia tie
DUNDALK manager Ian Foster has called on his side to get back to basics ahead of tonight's Europa League second qualifying round clash with Levski Sofia at Oriel Park.
Trailing 6-0 from the first leg, Dundalk are all but out of this year's competition, but Foster will name a full-strength side as they bid to halt a dreadful run of results which has seen them concede 13 goals without reply in their last three games.
"We're not in a position to rest players and, even if we could, I don't think it would be fair to bring younger players in. Outside of our 13 to 14 first-team players we have kids who make up the numbers.
"They have been great for me, don't get me wrong, but it would be wrong to put them in against Levski Sofia. They would get a hiding.
"It's unfortunate that they are having to learn at the level they are but that's what we have to do unfortunately.
"It's been a long time since we've kept a clean sheet and we need to get back to basics a bit. We need to cut out silly mistakes, we know that.
"It's not just the back four and the goalkeeper, it's the whole team. We need to stop balls coming into our box and we need to press harder when we don't have it. We're working on it."
Despite their recent spell of bad form, Foster maintains that the spirit in the Dundalk dressing-room is still very good.
"It has been a tough week but to be honest we're not too downhearted about it. We've lost four out of our last five league games, but they've been against St Patrick's Athletic, Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Sporting Fingal, teams that have budgets that are double ours and in some cases even treble ours.
"We've been beaten by the best team in the Europa League second qualifying round in the form of Levski Sofia, whom I would expect to go very far in this year's competition.
"Let's put things into perspective. We're not a million miles away from where we want to be."