Friday 6 December 2019

Davies happy to avoid trouble spots

Hull captain Curtis Davies was a relieved man when he found out his side would be facing a likely trip to AS Trencin of Slovakia in their Europa League bow.

Davies and his Tigers team-mates were flying back from a warm-weather training camp in Portugal when the third-qualifying round matches were paired and admits to an air of caution due to the presence of Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk in their pot.

Political tensions in the region were already high when the tragic downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday increased safety concerns tenfold.

Davies was hoping to avoid the country and was granted his wish when Hull were matched with Trencin or Vojvodina of Serbia, though the former's 4-0 first leg advantage makes them clear favourites.

"Obviously having seen what happened yesterday in Ukraine puts everything into perspective," he said.

"Looking at the draw there was a lot of wondering about countries we might go to and what teams, so seeing you could play a team from Ukraine was a concern. I'm not sure if UEFA would have allowed it but it was certainly a little worrying. But a few of the lads had texts when we got back to England saying 'you've got a nice trip to Slovakia'.

"We know now we're probably going there after the first leg and I'm sure that will be fine."

Davies, who has played in Europe before with Aston Villa and Birmingham, was unable to muster false enthusiasm for Hull's expected opponents but is eager to take the wider recognition European competition brings.

"I'm looking forward to the competition," he said. "I can't pretend it's an exciting tie in terms of the team and the payers they have but what is exciting is embarking on a European adventure.

"They must have done something right to get where they are and if we don't know anything about them coming into the match that could prove to be our downfall, so we'll need to do our homework, go out there and hopefully get a good result.

"It's just about going there and doing a job and if we can do that then you want to get through to the group stage when the so-called bigger teams start coming in."

If Motherwell come through their second-round encounter with Icelanders Stjarnan - the first leg of which finished 2-2 in Scotland - they will take on Nomme Kalju of Estonia or Lech Poznan of Poland.

Aberdeen will have a tough task ahead if they progress from their tie against FC Groningen, with Spain's Real Sociedad lying in wait for the winners. The Dons fought out a 0-0 first-leg draw with the Dutch outfit at Pittodrie on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Scotland's other participants St Johnstone will play Zestafoni of Georgia or Spartak Trnava of Slovakia should they get past Luzern following a 1-1 first-leg draw in Switzerland.

If League of Ireland Premier Division side Sligo can complete the job against Rosenborg after their shock 2-1 win in Norway on Thursday they will face Turkey's Kardemir Karabukspor.

Derry City's reward should they fight back from a 1-0 first-leg home defeat to win their tie against Belarus' Shakhtyor Soligorsk will be a clash with either Zulte Waregem of Belgium or Zawisza Bydgoszcz of Poland.

And if Dundalk can emerge triumphant from the second leg of their tie against Hajduk Split in Croatia, which they will head into 2-0 down, their opponents in the next round will be Lithuanians FK Atlantas or Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan.

As for Danske Bank Premiership sides, it will be Italy's Torino for Crusaders if they pull off an unlikely-looking aggregate victory over IF Brommapojkarna, to whom they trail 4-0 from the first leg in Sweden.

And progression by Linfield - 1-0 winners in their first leg at home against another Swedish side, AIK - will set up a meeting with either FC Astana of Kazakhstan or Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

The third-round first legs are set to be played on July 31, with the second legs on August 7.

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