| 5.1°C Dublin

Sheppard: we won't freeze

FROM A BALMY Dublin to the snow and subzero temperatures of Russia - just another day in the life of Shamrock Rovers FC as they embarked this morning on a 9,000km round trip.

But despite the massive challenges of taking on a classy European outfit like Rubin Kazan, the Rovers players have done their homework for the tie. They'll be trying to end their run of four successive defeats in the Europa League group stages, the aim remaining the same - getting at least one point from the six-game group phase.

"We have done well in a lot of the games but we still have no points and that hurts," Rovers striker Karl Sheppard said before the squad's 7am departure from Dublin today.


"We want to get something out of the group and if that means just one point, then we'll work towards that. It will help regarding the seeding for next season.

"The last two games are probably the hardest ones - Rubin away and Spurs at home - so it's not easy to pick up a point but we will be ready.

"We have tried to work on acclimatising but you can't really deal with that until you experience the cold out there. I think we'll be okay. We have been able to deal with a lot of hurdles and obstacles away from home in Europe so we can cope."

Rovers embarked on the latest stage of their European adventure this morning. That 7am flight from Dublin to Kazan in the heart of Russia - Tatarstan to be exact - for the penultimate game of a long, hard but also successful season for the Dublin outfit.

It's not the longest trek ever undertaken by an Irish club in Europe as St Pats (to Samara, also in Russia and to Karagandy in Kazakhstan) have gone even deeper into the continent.

But it's one of the toughest tests possible, as Rovers face a Rubin Kazan side who have just wrapped up the first section of the Russian season (they now take a three-month break) with last Saturday's 2-0 win over Dinamo Moscow.

"I'm sure Rubin will be well prepared for this game. They had a league game only last weekend, whereas our last league match was a month ago. They have the edge on that front," says Sheppard.

"They're in the middle of their season and, of course, they'll be used to the weather.

"We will know where we stand after the first 10 minutes or so. If we can stand up to them in the early stages and keep a clean sheet early on -- which we have struggled to do in a lot of these games, to be honest -- then we will do well."


Rovers got back to action last week with a friendly against Malmo in Sweden, another asset in their preparations for this test, as the Hoops players had been given some well-deserved time off after their last competitive game, at home to PAOK.

"It's been easy enough to get back to work. I thought it would have been harder to get back on track after that break at the end of the league season, but it was good to get that game in Malmo last week, that was a good warm-up for Kazan," added Sheppard.

"Training has been going well and the whole squad is just buzzing for this game tomorrow."