Tuesday 23 January 2018

Russell: Euro exit can spur Pat's title bid

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JOHN RUSSELL hopes that St Patrick's Athletic can find a silver lining from the cloud of Thursday's shattering Europa League defeat and use it as the catalyst for a charge to the League of Ireland title.

The midfielder was devastated after the Saints threw away a promising position to lose at home to Lithuanian side Zalgiris Vilnius.

For the Dubliners, the only positive is that it clears their fixture schedule with a view to maintaining their place at the top of the table.

Liam Buckley's side must lift themselves for tomorrow's crucial visit to champions Sligo Rovers, who have their own European distraction next week when they meet Molde in the Champions League.

Russell would like to see his former club come through that tie, but admits there are selfish reasons involved.

"Sligo got knocked out in the first round of Europe a year ago and went on to win the league, and we went through three rounds and our league form stuttered when we came back. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, we have to take that as a positive and try to go on and win the league.

"We would be hoping that Sligo get through their round and have a few more tough games so we can put a bit of pressure on them. Derry are in Europe as well the week we play them and hopefully we can take advantage," said Russell, who said he was "gutted" by the mid-week result.

Russell acknowledges that bouncing back from the Zalgiris defeat would be a test of character, particularly after misfiring in front of an expectant home crowd.

"It's about mental toughness now. We can't feel sorry for ourselves and we have to focus on winning the league. After a defeat like that you want to get back into it straight away and this will be a great game, a top-of-the-table clash."

Irish Independent

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