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First Team News

Head Coach Stephen Bradley gave this update on the squad in advance of Thursday’s UEFA Europa League tie against AIK:

“I wasn’t pleased with the first 30 minutes [against Cork], I thought we were poor. I don’t think we played anywhere near our levels. We defended OK in the game but I don’t think we played well. After the first half hour I was happy because it looked a lot more like us and especially in the second half we played well and created one or two chances.  

It was an unbelievable save [by Gavin Bazunu from the penalty]. It’s no surprise because he did his homework on penalties on the bus on the way down so he expected it. I thought throughout the game he had one little blip but overall he was outstanding. But Gavin just gets on with it, he doesn’t buy into anything or get carried away.  He wants to be a footballer and the best he can be. He keeps his head down and works hard and that’s the most pleasing part about the whole thing. 

I think Gavin and Alan [Mannus] know there’s a fight for the jersey and that’s going to remain the case for the rest of the season.  

We’ve been excellent as of late, we’ve lost one in nine. The lads have worked really hard and they’re playing well and keeping clean sheets. We’ll need all that tomorrow because we’re up against a really good side. 

We’ll have a look at what [formation] suits us best and make the decision accordingly. The players are very comfortable playing either three or four at the back so it’s not a big issue any more.  

We know a good bit about AIK, we’ve done our homework on them. We’ve had a lot of reports and had them watched. Stephen McPhail was over there at the weekend as well. We know it’s going to be a tough game for us but it’s one we’re looking forward to.  

I 100% believe we can cause them problems and the group believe that. We’ve watched them play, we’ve watched the videos and we know we can cause them issues. But we also understand that they’re a really good side. 

[The pre-season friendlies against Swedish teams] helped us understand their mentality and how they work, and also the tactical aspect of how they play, although they have a different system to the likes of Hammarby. It’ll definitely help us. 

We need to be solid for the two legs and make sure we’re concentrated from the first minute to the last because they have good attacking players. So we need to be switched on but going the other way we need to believe in ourselves and have a right go. 

The big European games here are special, there’s something about them. We’ll get a great crowd and I believe they’ve sold out the away end too so it’s going to be a great atmosphere. 

It’s a bit of a mixed bunch in terms of experience in Europe but I don’t believe that will be an issue with the boys who haven’t played. They’ve risen to every challenge this year in big games so I don’t see tomorrow being any different. 

Brandon Miele had a bad knock on his knee in training during the week. He fell awkwardly on it so it looks like we’re going to miss him for three or four weeks. Sean Boyd is still out as well. 

Celtic was a tough game for the trialists [Anto Breslin and Vincent Weijl] considering how many changes were made to the team and how strong they were. I thought Vincent did OK in the game and to be fair to Anto he came on at left wing in a difficult period when he’s a left-back. But Anto has been training with us and doing well so we’ll keep looking at that. 

We think it was the right time for Dean Dillon [to join Longford on loan]. He’s just finished school. So it gives him a bit of a breather plus I felt he was a little bit ahead of the 19s level and a little bit off our level. It’s good for him to go and play first team games, play for a team that’s going to play real football that suits Dean and it’ll make him stronger for when he comes back to us.”

For audio interview on soundcloud with Stephen click here 

Click here for midfielder Greg Bolger pre match interview.