SHAMROCK Rovers boss Stephen Bradley admits that the list of potential opponents in the first round of next season's Champions League already looks daunting as his side return to the competition for the first time in nine years.
hile the current Champions League season has yet to be completed, with Manchester City facing Chelsea in the final in Porto in two weeks' time, many clubs are already planning for the 2021/22 campaign, with the draw for the qualifying rounds to be made on June 15. The first qualifying round ties will be played on July 6/7 and July 13/14.
Rovers know they will be unseeded for the draw and Bradley has already had sight of their potential first-round opponents, with names like Red Star Belgrade, Legia Warsaw, Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos in at the same stage of qualification along with Malmo, Ferenvcaros and Dinamo Tbilisi, though the list is not complete as a number of European leagues are still undecided.
"I have seen the teams we could possibly get in the European draw and it looks very, very difficult as we are unseeded," Bradley says. "They are really strong, at a really high level but again the only way you improve that is by being there and doing well in Europe and improving in terms of your coefficient and your points, that's what we have to do."
Teams knocked out at the first round stage drop into the new Europa League Conference, while sides beaten at the second-round stage progress to the Europa League.
Meanwhile, Bradley says he has no plans to add to his squad in the summer, apart from the incoming Richie Towell who is eligible to line out for the Hoops on July 1 following his move from Salford City.
"If the right one becomes available that improves us as a group and fits everything we do, then it's a case for me and Stephen McPhail to bring that to the board and see what they say but we won't look to add a player just for the sake of it, if one we've had an eye on for a few years becomes available well then we will bring it to the board but now there is nothing there," he added.