Friday 23 February 2018

North eager to help Saints make most of home comforts

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

DANNY NORTH missed out on the epic journey to Kazakhstan, so his St Patrick's Athletic team-mates will be looking for him to take up some of the slack in the second leg of their Europa League second-round qualifier on Thursday night.

The striker didn't travel due to a hamstring injury but should be fit to face Shakhter Karagandy at Richmond Park as the Saints look to overturn a 2-1 deficit to progress to the third round.

And even though victory might inconvenience some of his team-mates who have holiday plans -- including captain Stephen Bradley, whose stag is planned for the League of Ireland's two-week break -- North reckons Pat's are capable of overcoming the Kazakhs to set up a meeting with FC Karparty Lviv from Ukraine.

"I know a few of the lads have got holidays booked for the next round, too, but it will be unlucky for them if we get there, said North as he collected his Soccer Writers Association of Ireland/Airtricity League Player of the Month award for June (pictured below).

"I'd like to think they'd be happy to cancel. It's their job, isn't it? I know one of the boys has his stag that week. He'll just have to have it at the end of the season. I'm sure he was going somewhere a lot more exotic than the Ukraine."

The St Pat's players have all returned safely -- via Abu Dhabi on board Etihad's 'Blue Moon Rising', Manchester City-branded plane.

And, with the Kazakhs arriving in Dublin yesterday after a similarly arduous journey, the Saints are hoping their visitors experience a culture shock comparable to the one they got in the former Soviet republic.

"All of the lads who went over did the club proud, did the country proud.

"It was just a shame I had to miss it, but hopefully I can play my part in the second leg," North said.

"The Kazakh team was really good, so to come away with an away goal has to be a good result.

"I think it'll be just as much of a shock to them coming over here as it was for us to go over there.

"They're used to playing in front of 10,000 to 15,000 and now they come here to Richmond Park, a nice compact ground with a good atmosphere and that can help us."

Irish Independent

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