NK Široki Brijeg of Bosnia Herzegovina are next up for the Saints this Thursday in their 2nd qualifying round Europa League tie, with the game due to kick-off at 8pm Irish time.
Pats will be hoping to put Sunday's disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Drogheda behind them and return to the form which saw them knock out Icelandic side IBV Vestmannaeyjar on away goals (2-2 on aggregate) in the first qualifying round of the Europa League.
However the Saints' are up against formidable opponents in Široki Brijeg who while boasting a squad of mainly Bosnian born players, have a strong contingent of Croatians and include 34 year old Brazilian midfielder Wagner in their ranks.
The Brazilian, who chipped in with 8 league goals last season, is expected to be one of many threats from the home side on Thursday night, with Croatian striker Mateo Roskam and skipper and former Bosnia Herzegovina international, Dalibor Šilić to name just two others.
For Pats' manager Liam Buckley, the game represents a great opportunity for players and management to test themselves against a strong side with a good history in European competition. “Široki Brijeg are a good side, they've either won or finished runners-up in their domestic league and cup for the past few years,” he told stpatsfc.com.
“We've seen a few dvd's of them from league games and from the cup final they played in last season, so we know it'll be a tough game but it's one we're looking forward to.”
Buckley confirmed to stpatsfc.com that Pat Flynn and Mark Rossiter will not be part of the squad travelling to Bosnia, Flynn suffered left the field of play at the end of the first half of Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Drogheda Untied with concussion, while Rossiter continues to recover from his long term knee injury.
Buckley however remained hopeful that the rest of his squad will be available for selection on Thursday.
Since making the switch to summer soccer, Irish sides have a match fitness advantage over a number of European sides at this time of the year, however Buckley played down the advantage over Široki Brijeg and instead pointed to the high temperatures in Bosnia as something which instead would favour the home side.
“Their last competitive game was at the end of May, they would've had a few weeks off and they've now been back around three weeks and had a few preparations matches in the past couple of weeks. I don't think they will have lost much fitness so I don't see it being an issue for them.
The weather will be an issue however as the temperature is supposed to be 35 degrees during the day, and about 25 at night. So with the humidity, it'll be tough for us.”
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