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Clarke makes Warsaw pact


Brendan Clarke

Brendan Clarke

Brendan Clarke

HAVING done his homework, St Patrick's Athletic goalkeeper Brendan Clarke hopes he'll not have his work cut out in keeping Legia Warsaw at bay in tonight's Champions League first qualifying round first leg tie at the Pepsi Arena.

Not having qualified for it for 19 years, Legia have big ambitions of making the group stages of the competition this season.

And with manager Henning Berg having 17 full internationals to call upon, Clarke expects to be one of he busiest men in Warsaw tonight.

But with plenty of assistance from club analyst Dave Campbell, Clarke hopes he knows what to expect.

"Dave Campbell gave me a DVD last Saturday of pretty much every goal they scored last season, so I have a good idea of how they break and where their manager wants his players in the opposition box," said Clarke.

"I can give our lads information during a game as I'm watching how they move.

"They like to hit teams on the counter-attack and that's why Liam said that it's so important to keep the ball because if we lose it they have real quality going forward that can punish us."

Despite their season not having started yet, Legia manager Henning Berg says their preparation has been good. "I think it is good for them to be in the middle of their season," said Berg, who mentioned Keith Fahey, Killian Brennan and Christy Fagan as St Pats' dangermen.

"(But) Our break was very short. It was two weeks from the final match against Lech Poznan to the first training day and fitness tests.

"You don't lose much fitness or football in that time. But it has given us a fresher mentality. Of course we are well prepared. I don't think they have a big advantage. It should be even."

Asked if he expects to put the tie to bed in tonight's first leg, Berg was diplomatic.

"We will do everything we can to win the game, playing the best football we can play. Then we know we have another game next week to qualify."

With left-back Ian Bermingham and midfielder Brennan expected to be passed fit following ankle and knee injuries, respectively, Sean Hoare is St Pats' only absentee.

"They are full of internationals and they are looking forward to the group stages, by all accounts," said Buckley who is likely to play both Fahey and Greg Bolger in a holding pair in front of the back four.

"Our ambition is to play as well as we can. If you play Legia ten times you won't be favourites to win the ten but there will be one or two times you will get a result.

"We'll be conscious of trying not to concede. We want to keep the tie alive.

"We have strengths in our team that I'm sure they'll give us respect for as well.

"They key (tonight) is ball retention. If we do it as well as we can do, we'll be in the tie."