DFC | Gill says Dundalk FC will go on the attack in Bratislava

Europa League Preview | Slovan Bratislava v Dundalk FC

John Gill insists Dundalk will take the game to Slovan Bratislava when the sides meet in Wednesday night’s Europa League third qualifying round tie first-leg at the Tehelne Pole.

The Lilywhites saw their Champions League hopes extinguished by Qarabag last Wednesday, going down 3–0 on the night in Azerbaijan, and 4–1 on aggregate.

Dundalk started that game with Sean Hoare and Chris Shields operating in defensive midfield positions but Gill said they would take a different approach in the Slovakian capital.

“We probably won’t be as conservative as we were in Azerbaijan,” he said. “We changed our philosophy for that game and we had to as you saw just how good a side Qarabag are.

“We’ve parked it now,” he added. “It was a bad night at the office. There was an awful lot of negative stuff written about last week but we were still in that game with 15 minutes to go. Were Qarabag the better side? Yes, but if Patrick Hoban’s chance had gone in, who knows what might have happened.

“This game will be a bit different. We’re away from home first and if we can bring it back to Tallaght next Tuesday with the tie alive, we’ll be in a really good place.”

Tomorrow night’s game represents Dundalk’s fifth European game in the space of 28 days but Gill said the players were ready — mentally and physically — for the challenge ahead.

“European football is a draining process and people don’t realise that. We’ve travelled well over 20,000km in the past four weeks but this is the level you want to test yourself at and we’ll reap the benefits of it.

“The amount of information the players take on board is incredible,” he added. “Stephen O’Donnell, our opposition analyst, has been around the world in 80 days over the past month watching games.

“From a mental point of view, there’s a huge amount of work to go through because you’re going into the unknown. You’re looking at videos, individual players and you try and make that compact so you’re not giving the players too much information.”

Around 200 Dundalk supporters have made the trip to Bratislava to cheer the Lilywhites on and Gill is hoping they can make their presence felt in the 22,500 seater arena which was only opened this year.

“We always say it, particularly the away crowds at Dundalk, they can drag us through games when we need them, be that at home or in Europe.

“They’re passionate, they know their football and that helps the team no end. You saw the reaction in Riga after the Champions League game. It was a special night and, hopefully, this is another one.”

The Dundalk squad trained at the national stadium last night. Robbie Benson didn’t travel due to the rib injury he sustained in the first-leg tie with Qarabag two weeks ago while Stephen Folan and Jordan Flores remain sidelined with long-term injuries.

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