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Bradley remains focused as Finnish restrictions could gift Rovers Europa bye

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Stephen Bradley takes his Shamrock Rovers side into Europa League action against Finnish side Ilves Tampere tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Bradley takes his Shamrock Rovers side into Europa League action against Finnish side Ilves Tampere tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Bradley takes his Shamrock Rovers side into Europa League action against Finnish side Ilves Tampere tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Shamrock Rovers may get a bye into the next round of the Europa League if their Finnish opponents are unable to travel to Dublin for next week's one-off game.

But while there is a cloud over next week's Europa League first-round for the Hoops and Derry City, due to Covid-related issues, Rovers manager Stephen Bradley is confident the domestic season will be completed despite newly-introduced restrictions here.

Bradley's focus now is on tomorrow's league game at home to Shelbourne when the Hoops can go seven points clear of closest rivals Bohemians.

"If you were to bother with everything you read or hear, you'd forget about training and preparing a team for a game. If something is thrown at us we'll deal with it. We just deal in facts, the fact is we have Shelbourne on Friday," Bradley said of the Europa League issue.

The next scheduled fixture after that is a Europa League tie at home to Finland's Ilves Tampere on Thursday. But the visitors' ability to get to Dublin is in doubt with the Finnish government ordering that, from next Monday, anyone returning from Ireland must quarantine for 14 days.

Unless the club get a government exemption (and to date authorities in Helsinki have been slow to accommodate sports teams), their players would have to isolate t after the Rovers game, putting their domestic season on hold.

Derry have a similar issue as they play on Tuesday in Lithuania where new regulations demand that any arrivals from Ireland or the UK quarantine for 14 days. However, the Lithuanian government is reportedly open to exemptions for clubs and Derry now expect to be able to travel.

As of last night, Rovers were awaiting an update from Ilves who could appeal to UEFA, claiming their government rules prevent them from travelling and demand that Rovers move the game to a neutral country. But it's also very possible that Ilves opt not to travel, which would result in a forfeit of the game and a 3-0 win for Rovers.

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