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Rift with FAI overshadows Foster's plan for Sofia

DUNDALK'S plans for tonight's tricky Europa League tie in Bulgaria against Levski Sofia (6.45pm) have been hampered by a row over manager Ian Foster's criticisms of the FAI, writes AIDAN FITZMAURICE.

And there are even fears among sections of the Oriel Park support that they could lose their highly rated young manager over the matter as the club have not only failed to back their manager but have officially distanced themselves from Foster's comments.

Dundalk truly are up against it when they take on Levski, a club who were competing in the group stages of the Champions League only four years ago, as Foster admits.

"It's going to be difficult, we're aware of that. Fitness is the only advantage we have coming here," he said.

But in the background there is clearly a rift between the club and the manager over comments he made before the club left for Bulgaria on Tuesday. Following Sunday's 4-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers, Foster spoke to the media and in his reaction to that game, first published in the Herald on Monday, he launched a stinging attack on the FAI over the scheduling of fixtures which sees Dundalk forced to play a game every three days in July.

He claimed that the fixture list was hampering his club's chances in Europe, that the club had been unable to field new signing Steven Lennon (Rangers) because of an FAI delay in registering the player and that the FAI "won't answer our calls".

Foster refused to be drawn further into the row before the game.