St Pat's begin their Europa League campaign this Thursday as they host Icelandic side IBV in Richmond Park.
The game sees Liam Buckley's Pats' side face familiar opposition at this stage of the competition with the Saints' having defeated IBV last season 2-1 on aggregate – IBV winning 1-0 at home, with the Saints claiming a 2-0 home win thanks to goals from Ian Daly and Derek Doyle.
With Pats unbeaten in their last nine games in Richmond Park in European competition and hoping to advance to the second qualifying round of the competition and face Bosnian side NK Široki Brijeg, Thursday's home leg against IBV is creating huge interest amongst supporters and those without tickets are being urged to buy them as soon as possible.
For Saints' defender Ian Bermingham, one of only two members of the current Saints' squad to have played against the Icelandic side last year, the opportunity not only to play in Europe again, but to play in front of the Saints' fans in Inchicore in the Europa League, is one he is relishing.
“I can remember being beaten 1-0 over there and it was tough enough to be fair,” he told stpatsfc.com. “But when we came back to Inchicore, the supporters were unbelievable as they really spurred us on to a great 2-1 win overall. It was really brilliant as the European games are great nights and ones that every player wants to play in.”
Bermingham believes that this year's side may be better equipped for European football and he expressed his confidence in getting a result on Thursday, point to the confidence within the squad after recent wins in the league against Dublin rivals Bohemians and Shelbourne.
“I think our style of play will suit us in Europe. Off the ball, I think we work really hard to get possession back, we all really work as a unit. But when we have the ball, I think we're very good and we'll cause them a lot of problems. Last year we were in their faces and they didn't like that, so I think we'll be in their faces again this year and when we're on the ball, hopefully, they won't be able to live with us.”
Saints manager Liam Buckley confirmed to stpatsfc.com that midfielder John Russell is available for selection, while Anto Flood could be eligible to play having recently signed after a brief spell in England with Southend United if he receives international clearance in time.
However the Saints will be without the services of Chris Forrester having picked up an ankle injury in last Friday's 1-0 over Shelbourne, and Mark Rossiter continues to remain on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Having managed Shamrock Rovers, Sporting Fingal and the Saints previously in European competition and spent part of his playing career in Europe, Buckley is aware of the style of play his side are likely to come against in the competition and he paid tribute to the work of his opposite number, Magnús Gylfason.
“IBV will be a different test, we know a little about them but not as much you'd like to know. We've seen a few DVDs of them from recent games, and then of course last year's game as well. They have five English players in there squad, and we think most of them will be involved tomorrow.”
“In the game last year, it was tight and wasn't as comfortable as people have made out. They had a few chances to score the away goal in Inchicore which could have made the difference and swung the result in their favour, so they're a decent side.”
|11||St. Patrick's Athletic||19||16|
|12||Galway United FC||20||15|