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John Russell wants Sligo Rovers to treat Thursday’s game against Viking ‘like it’s the first one’

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Sligo Rovers manager John Russell. Pic: James Fallon/Sportsfile.

Sligo Rovers manager John Russell. Pic: James Fallon/Sportsfile.

Sligo Rovers manager John Russell. Pic: James Fallon/Sportsfile.

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Sligo Rovers manager John Russell wants his players to go into Thursday’s second leg against Viking like it’s ‘a fresh start’.

Rovers are 5-1 down after the first leg of their Europa Conference League third round meeting with Viking and face the Norwegians again this Thursday at home.

Russell doesn’t want his players getting too wrapped up in the aggregate score, he wants players to act like this is the first game.

The Rovers manager told a press conference on Tuesday: “For us it’s all about maintaining standards and trying to improve.

“It’s a work in progress and we want to be in Europe, competing and getting through rounds.

“I felt we fully deserve to be in the third round. It was a difficult night last week but coming into this game, for me it’s like a fresh start again.

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“We’ll have to go into the game like it’s the first game, we want to put on a good performance. It’s important we do that.

“We have a lot of quality in our team and they’ll be eager to put on a performance and play well on Thursday.”

It’s no secret that Russell is an incredibly hard worker and no matter who his team are playing, hours and hours of research go into the opposition.

Even with the homework he had done prior to last Thursday, Viking proved to be a serious outfit and Rovers, in truth, were no match.

But Rovers can, Russell says, take learnings away from that game.

“You can watch all the videos and matches but nothing beats seeing teams live.

“For me on the sideline, watching them and their play, speed of movement. We haven’t experienced anything like that in our league before.

“There were serious learnings after the game for us as a team and as a club.

“We want to aspire to get into Europe and get through rounds and try to break into group stages. You can learn an awful lot from the way they played.

“The whole structure of their club and how they’ve developed. On the night, for our players to see the different levels you have to go up.

“It will be important for us going forward when you talk about the off-season and pre-season next year.

“We’re trying to improve our players both on and off the pitch.”

It’s highly unlikely that Rovers will find a way back into the tie, and there’s been no talk of that possibility.

Russell’s focus is ensuring his team do their best this Thursday, even if it is just to sign out of Europe on a positive note.

“We’ll just have to approach it like every other game. We go in to win every match we play. Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way.

“The performance I felt last week, conceding two early goals and two players coming off injured in the first half, it was a difficult night for us.

“Viking are a top team, they showed their quality. Even the goals they scored in the second half were goals we haven’t experienced in our own league.

“The level of play and precision and quality finishes. Sometimes they were unavoidable, the strikes from distance.

“It’s important now we put on a good performance at home to a full house and I think we will.”


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