Kenna Hopeful As St Pat's Prepare To Frustrate Hosts

  • Thu, Aug 06, 2009 @ 9:32

HAVING TAKEN the journey in stages, with an overnight in London, St Patrick’s Athletic boss Jeff Kenna says he has no complaints about the impact the trip has had on his side’s preparations for this afternoon’s Europa League qualifying round game against Krylia Sovetov in Samara (kick-off 3.0 Irish time).

Some idea of the difficulty involved in reaching the southern Russian city is provided, however, by the fact that, setting aside club officials, the Dubliners expect to have just three supporters at the Metallurg Stadium.

The amount of noise likely to be made by the other 30,000 or so is of some concern, he admits, but it’s largely outweighed by the relief of finding, since their arrival on Tuesday, that neither heat nor humidity is a major factor.

Next up for Kenna is who exactly his players will be up against this evening with locals informing him with no great sense of reliability that neither Jan Koller nor his former Czech international team-mate, Jiri Jarosik, will feature due to illness.

The giant striker’s return would be a particular blow as he would provide a major focus for the home side’s pursuit of the goal they need at the outset to save themselves from elimination.

The 36-year-old missed last week’s 1-0 defeat in Dublin and a league loss at the weekend that leaves the Russians with just two points from their last six domestic outings.

Given the form shown through stretches of this season by Kenna’s men, he’s not taking that as a guarantee of anything but there is a sense in the Dublin camp that they have more chance of progressing here than would have seemed reasonable even to hope for prior to the first leg.

“We’re not going to be cavalier,” he says.

“They have to score so it would not suit us if play was too open. Maybe we will be a bit more defensive than we were in the second half in the first leg.

“But having watched the DVD of the first leg, I’m more hopeful of our chances than before. I thought they actually had more chances in the first half at Richmond Park than they did. It was in the second half, when play opened up, that they stretched us at times. But then, we created chances ourselves too and I think we will do so again tomorrow. A goal for us would give them major problems.”

The visitors are likely to start with the team that began that second half with Bobby Ryan on the wing and Declan O’Brien, having scored in all three of the club’s European games to date this summer, up front. At the back, though, things are expected to be unchanged with Jamie Harris and Dave Partridge again handed the task of protecting Gary Rogers.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” says the Welshman who is in line to start his 23rd game in Europe.

“It will be massive. The concentration last Thursday was huge, it was probably more taxing mentally than physically. I have to concentrate so much on the whereabouts and the movement so much more.

“And obviously if Jan Koller’s playing it will be a different proposition again. He’s a giant. Whoever plays, though, I expect them to come out of the traps early and I think we’ll be defending for the majority of the game again.”

Next Fixture

UCD / August 19th @ 7:45pm
Competition: League
Venue: UCD Bowl
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