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Madden's euro goal

BOHEMIANS hitman Paddy Madden has confidence coursing through his veins, and he feels he can bring his stunning run of form in front of goal on to the big stage of the Champions League tonight, as the Gypsies face Welsh side TNS.

Ireland U21 cap Madden is in the sort of form that other strikers can only dream about, scoring nine goals in the last five games, and could have been six in 10 had last week's game away to Drogheda United not been abandoned due to a floodlight failure.

While some of his Bohs team-mates are old hands when it comes to European football -- the back four of Heary, Shelley, Oman and Powell have an amazing tally of 62 games in the Uefa competition between them -- Madden is a rookie at the European lark, the 20-year-old having played just once in Europe as an injury-time sub for Bohs in their draw away to Red Bull Salzburg last year.

"My confidence is up now and I feel that if I can get a chance against TNS tonight I'll put it away," says Madden, who has been capped at U21 and U23 levels in the last year.


"I was really disappointed that the Drogheda game on Friday was abandoned. That would have taken me up to 10 goals in six games, so I am enjoying this run of form at the minute.

"Confidence is a big part of the game when you're a striker. I had a dry spell in the team there a while ago -- I think I went something like two months without a goal in the league -- and my head was a bit down when I wasn't scoring in all that time. But I kept working hard and tried not to let my game drop. I got a hat-trick against Glenville in the FAI Cup and I haven't looked back since.

"I know it's a big step up to the European stage tonight, but I'm happy with how I'm playing, and hopefully if the chances come my way I can get a goal or two. It's a big game for us and in no way are we taking TNS for granted. We're not assuming we'll have an easy night and get into the next round.

"We've been told all about them, we have studied them on DVD and Pat (Fenlon) has had them watched. I have even done a bit of homework on them myself.

"I like to know as much as I can about the teams that I'm up against, so I did a bit of digging on TNS on the internet. I looked at their record in their league last season and they were very strong defensively, they didn't concede many goals in the Welsh league and they've carried that into pre-season this year.

"They kept clean sheets against Linfield and Glentoran in friendly games, and we know from the Setanta Cup just how good those clubs are, so it's going to be a tricky night for us, make no mistake," added Madden, who is likely to keep former Ireland international Jason Byrne on the bench for the visit of TNS.

Byrne is the joint holder of the all-time scoring record for League of Ireland clubs in Europe, with 10 goals, but the Tallaght man is still recovering from the back injury he picked up against Galway United six weeks ago and is likely to start the TNS game on the bench, leaving Madden and Raff Cretaro to lead the line up front.

"Myself and Raff have had a good partnership in the last few games but we're both under massive pressure when you have someone like Jason Byrne there to come in," he says.

"Jay has been one of the best strikers in the league in the last 10 years and there is real competition in the squad now. I think that brings more out of my game, as I know I have to do really, really well to stay in the team.

"Now that I have a place in the starting 11 with Bohs, I am more determined to stay there and I need to keep scoring goals to do that."

Still only 20, Madden is in his third season of League of Ireland football, as he made his league debut in the title-winning season of 2008, making one appearance as sub.

At the start of last season, he was sent out on loan to Shelbourne to learn his trade and only returned to Bohs midway through the campaign, with Madden scoring four important goals in the title run-in.

Team-mates from that squad, such as Gary Deegan (now Coventry) and Brian Murphy (now Ipswich) have gone on to play at a high level in the UK, and Madden, who had trials with English clubs when he was a schoolboy, is keen to try his luck abroad.

"My aim is to play in England at some stage in my career, but it's up to me to do well at Bohemians and make that happen," says Madden, signed by Fenlon from Finglas club WFTA.

"I had trials at places like Stoke and Stockport when I was younger, but nothing ever happened, so I stayed with WFTA until Bohs came in for me, and I owe a bid debt to WFTA for getting me here, for helping me play in the Champions League."

He added: "At the moment, I am focused on Bohs and doing well for them.

"If something comes up later on and I get the chance to play abroad like Murph or Deega, then great, but for now all that matters is Bohs and getting into the next round of the Champions League."