Drogheda aiming to maintain improvement as they take on young Malmo side in Tallaght
Mick Cooke hoping to build on defeat of Cork but knows his side must stop Swedes scoring
Drogheda manager Mick Cooke, with asisstant Robbie Horgan, training in Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Drogheda United return to Tallaght for the first time since their 7-1 humbling by Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Cup tonight, with manager Mick Cooke aiming to mark his own European debut with success against Swedish side Malmo.
The visitors are not the force they were in the 1970s when they reached the final of the European Cup only to be beaten by Nottingham Forest, but they are the most successful team from a league which boasts a decent pedigree.
And, of course, United are not the force they were five years ago when they last competed on a European stage.
After having exceeded all expectations last season, Cooke’s side has endured a far more difficult time over the course of this campaign and Monday’s EA Sports win over Cork City provided a much needed boost after a run of five straight league defeats – the last of them by three goals against Shamrock Rovers on Friday.
The absence of key players through suspension for that game goes some way towards explaining their lack of competitiveness and everybody bar Eric Foley is available.
Malmo boss Rikard Norling brings a side of promising young players consisting for the most part of under-21 internationals, who have recently started to pick up senior caps with Sweden.
The key threat to United’s hopes of keeping a clean sheet could be South African striker Tokelo Rantie who, Cooke observed, “could have had six”, in one of the team’s two league games last week.
“They’re a young side and like us they have a lot of players playing in Europe for the first time. We don’t want to concede and if we can go there with a lead or even level then the pressure will be on them and we’ll see how they cope,” added Cooke, who looks likely to play Gavin Brennan at left-back, Alan Byrne in midfield and Peter Hynes up front.
DROGHEDA UNITED (probable): Sava; Gannon, McNally, Prendergast, G Brennan; Cassidy, O’Conor, Byrne, R Brennan; O’Neill; Hynes.
MALMO (probable): Dahlin; Albornoz, Johansson, Jansson, Ricardinho; Hamad, Halsti, Friberg, Thern; Rantie, Eriksson.
Referee: Emir Aleckovic (Bosnia Herzegovina)