Friday 24 March 2017

O'Neill has faith in Rovers to raise their game and upset odds

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

AS a player with Northern Ireland, Michael O'Neill was part of a group that developed a reputation for upsetting the odds on their travels.

With his old team-mate Jim Magilton by his side, the Shamrock Rovers manager is aiming to draw on that experience and mastermind a result to keep their Champions League third qualifying round tie with FC Copenhagen alive into next week's decider in Dublin.

Copenhagen may be going through a transitional period after the summer appointment of Roland Nilsson and the departure of six players who were instrumental in their charge to the final 16 of last season's competition, but they are still warm favourites to advance.

O'Neill, whose team will line out in the 4-5-1 formation that has served them well on their European travels, believes that his charges are capable of giving more than a good account of themselves against Copenhagen.

"When I was with the North, we made sure we were hard to beat," he said. "We probably had the mindset that my team will have here.

complacency

"The expectation level wasn't high, but we could come to places like this knowing we had good players and that if we could all lift our game a few levels above what people expected us to, then we could cause upsets. It will be a similar approach from my own players here."

FC Copenhagen manager Nilsson -- who was at Coventry at the same time as O'Neill -- stressed there would be no complacency from the odds-on shots.

"I saw the games against Flora Tallinn and they are well organised in the things they are doing," he said, with regard to Rovers. "It will be tough, so we have to play the way that suits us.

"That means having a high tempo with the ball and good movement. I think that's the recipe.

"We know that conceding a goal could make it very dangerous for us in Ireland."

The hosts' only injury doubt surrounds the fitness of key striker Dame N'Doye, with the Senegalese international troubled by a groin complaint.

O'Neill is without the suspended Chris Turner, with Stephen Rice in pole position to deputise as the other alternative, Stephen O'Donnell, is struggling with a hamstring injury.

(Probable Teams)

Copenhagen -- Wiland; Thomsen, Ottesen, Zanta, Bengtsson; Bolanos, Claudemir, Grindheim, Diouf; N'Doye, Santin.

Shamrock Rovers -- Thompson, Sullivan, Oman, Sives, Stevens; Kelly, Rice, McCormack, Finn, Dennehy; Twigg.

FC Copenhagen v Shamrock Rovers, Live, Setanta Sports 1, 7.0

Irish Independent

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