Pat Fenlon taking nothing for granted as Shamrock Rovers travel to Luxembourg
Though Shamrock Rovers go into their Europa League tie with FC Progrès Niederkorn tonight as warm favourites, manager Pat Fenlon knows better than to take anything for granted.
Fenlon was in charge of Bohemians when they were surprisingly tanked 4-0 by Welsh club TNS five years ago.
“People may look at it and think ‘it’s Luxembourg, you’ve got a good chance’, but they’ll be okay,” said Fenlon of his side’s opponents.
“They’ll be a decent standard, so we have to make sure we apply ourselves right.
“It’s obviously important we defend well out here. If we do that, we have players capable of scoring goals at the top end.”
Fenlon said that while Progrès are a physical team, they try to pass the ball.
“They didn’t look like they had huge amounts of pace in the team,” added Fenlon.
“When you are going away, you need to be solid at the back and get that away goal.
“They have some good technical players, but I think they would be the same type of standard as our league.”
Already missing the injured Keith Fahey, Rovers must begin their European campaign without their other experienced ex-international, Stephen McPhail.
The former Cardiff captain, who enjoyed runs to the Champions League and UEFA Cup semi-finals earlier in his career with Leeds, strained a hamstring in last Friday’s 2-1 win at Galway United.
And though all of his squad, bar Sean O’Connor, who is in plaster after Achilles surgery, travelled on the team’s four-hour delayed charter flight yesterday afternoon (in a CityJet ‘Leinster Rugby’ liveried replacement plane), Fenlon is without captain Connor Kenna due to his niggling groin injury.
In addition, Fenlon’s preparations have been hampered by scant information on the side that fished fourth in the Luxembourg league last season.
Back in Europe for the first time since 1982, FC Progrès Niederkorn beat F91 Dudelange, who play UCD in the same competition on Thursday, 3-1 in a friendly at the weekend.
But knowledge of the fixture came too late for a Rovers staff member to get out and have a look.
“It is a little bit into the unknown,” said Fenlon. “It’s probably the hardest one we’ve had (to scout). But we’ll prepare the players as best we can.
“I’ve got some stuff from people in Scotland and we put together a DVD.”
Shamrock Rovers (probable): Hyland; Madden, Webster, Clancy, Byrne; Cregg, R. Brennan; Waters, Miele, McCabe; Drennan.