Thursday 30 March 2017

Richardson Super Cup plans for LOI stars

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

DAMIEN Richardson will again take charge of the Airtricity League XI this summer and he is hoping for a big improvement from them in the Dublin Super Cup.

The former Shamrock Rovers boss was in charge of the composite for last summer's humbling 7-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United on the Aviva Stadium's opening night and although he will have more time to prepare this time around, he is likely to be without a host of players who will be in European action at the end of July.

Sligo Rovers will definitely be competing for a spot in the Europa League group stages after being put straight into the third qualifying round, while success for Bohemians, St Patrick's Athletic or the Hoops means they could be involved in vital European ties during the friendly tournament at the Aviva Stadium.

Richardson's charges will meet Celtic and Manchester City, with Inter Milan also involved over the weekend of July 30, and he admitted he won't select any players involved in European action.

"If clubs are involved on the Wednesday before and the Wednesday afterwards, players' performances wouldn't be at full capacity -- and managers wouldn't want them to be involved," he said. "So it would be a fruitless exercise, really, to include them. What we want is for the teams to be successful, we've worked hard to get them into Europe and they're all seeded.

"So, we'll announce a larger squad and take the numbers down at the right time. Both (Europe and the Super Cup) are equally important, this tournament gives players terrific experience and we want the players to apply themselves with proper diligence. It's important that everyone involved is fully committed to it."

Despite last year's hammering, League director Fran Gavin revealed that Richardson was the only candidate for the manager's job. And Richardson believes the improved preparation time for this year's tournament will make his side more competitive.

"I'm delighted to be involved again, in the past we never had a stadium or tournament of this consequence," he said.

"We will have a week's preparation. We'll have a session on Sunday, Tuesday and two each on Wednesday and Thursday. It's very important that the performance is as good as it possibly can and reflects the quality of the league."

enthusiastic

The tournament is scheduled to run for the next 10 years and Richardson is enthusiastic about the impact it will have on the league's players.

With the marquee clubs involved, the games being played at the 51,000 capacity venue and broadcast in 100 countries, he knows the league side must be competitive to gain from the experience.

"Our lads will be fit, we know that, they'll be ready for it. We need them to be as physically and mentally strong as they possibly can," he said.

"We want this to be the best it can because it's what the league deserves and needs.

"I'm sure the likes of Seamus Coleman would have been even better prepared going away if he'd been involved in something like this. It encourages everybody around the league and generates publicity for the domestic game."

Irish Independent

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