BY NIAMH O’MAHONY
CORK City are back in Europa League action on Thursday, with Linfield travelling south from Belfast for the second leg of the clubs’ first qualifying round tie.
The Leesiders hold a narrow advantage over their Irish League opponents having won last week’s encounter in Windsor Park 1-0, thanks to a Sean Maguire penalty on 64 minutes.
The winners of the tie will travel to Sweden next week to face BK Hacken with the home leg of that second qualifying round tie to be played the following week.
Speaking at the club’s weekly press conference ahead of the game, City boss John Caulfield said: ‘There’s still a lot of work to be done. I said from the start that this would be a 50-50 game. I said it wouldn’t be a typical European game as both clubs would be going at it hell for leather. We have a massive job to do once again tomorrow night. Being 1-0 up is an advantage but it would be foolish to think that the game wasn’t in the balance.
‘Linfield play very direct. They play 4-4-2, they don’t mess around, they play ball into the channels and have young Paul Smyth playing in behind. They play a lot off set pieces and you could see that (last week) because every set piece that they got inside our half and every corner, the delivery was good. We defended well, and we’d expect more of that tomorrow.
‘When we got it down and passed it, we caused them problems, so we’ve looked at their strengths and weaknesses.
‘We plan on going on the attack. We didn’t have any particular approach last week, we felt we could win the match. We felt we could score and tomorrow night, we don’t see any difference. We’ll be at home, we know the way they’ll play. We just have to on our game and ready from the start. You’d be foolish to go out and sit back. Our plan is to go out and score, and that’s the only way to approach it.’
In terms of injury news, Caulfield is hopeful a couple of niggling concerns will clear up in time for the game.
‘Alan (Smith) hurt his ankle in training a week ago. He won’t be involved in the game tomorrow and will be out for about three weeks. We were hoping to have John Kavanagh back involved, certainly for the Fulham match, but the new for him isn’t good either and he’s out for another four weeks.
‘Michael (McSweeney) is okay again. He had only been back in training a couple of days before last week’s game, so we decided not to play him. He’s trained away this week though so he’s back in contention.’
Club captain John Dunleavy will miss the game because of a long-term injury, while John Kavanagh and Alan Smith are also sidelined for the encounter. Karl Sheppard, Steven Beattie and Greg Bolger are all rated as doubtful and will be assessed closer to kick off.