Bradley admits Rovers have mountain to climb
RoPS Rovaniemi 2 Shamrock Rovers 0
Stephen Bradley will relish being thrown in at the deep end as Shamrock Rovers' caretaker manager in Rovaniemi tonight.
He just wishes it was under different circumstances following manager Pat Fenlon's somewhat surprise dismissal on Sunday.
Though Bradley doesn't possess a Pro Licence, UEFA has given dispensation for the 31-year-old to be in the dugout.
He'll be assisted by fellow coach Glenn Cronin and player-coach Stephen McPhail, as Rovers endeavour to overturn a 2-0 deficit against RoPS here in Lapland.
"We trained Sunday morning and then in the afternoon Pat rang and said what had happened," recalled Bradley of his shock at the news. "I think it came as a surprise to everyone.
"That's football and the lads who've been around a while understand that's the way it goes sometimes."
So now, on an unfamiliar synthetic pitch on the edge of the arctic, managerless Rovers must do what no League of Ireland side has yet done and win a tie in Europe having first lost the home leg. "Morale is good," said Bradley. "I spoke to the lads about it, and spoke to Pat, and Glenn did as well. The lads are fine. They just want to get out and play and improve on what they did last week."
Bradley can only be confident that a much better all-round performance may give Rovers a chance.
"We have to win the game, whatever way that comes," said Bradley. "We have to try to win it as best we can. The lads know there is no hiding place. They know they have to go and put in a performance.
"We have to go for it. We have to play our game and have a go at them and let's see where that takes us.
"We obviously let ourselves down in every department last Thursday so we have to go and rectify that tonight.
"We owe ourselves more than anyone. Players and staff knew after Thursday we weren't good enough. There is no hiding away from it. The lads were the first to say that. They owe themselves before anyone else."
Bradley may be forced into at least one change as defender David O'Connor is a doubt with a hamstring injury.
Striker Danny North (knee) didn't travel.