Confident Cork City ready for European challenge
John Caulfield’s side in impressive form as they face Levadia Tallinn in Estonia
John Caulfield: will welcome return of Steven Beattie for the away tie against Levadia Tallinn. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Cork City will be looking to kick-start their European campaign with a win when they face Levadia Tallinn on Thursday (4.30pm Irish time) in their Europa League first qualifying round first leg.
The reigning FAI Cup holders are on an incredible run in the Airtricity League Premier Division; 18 wins and a single draw their record thus far sees them currently 15 points top of the table with a game in hand.
The focus is now on Estonia however, as John Caulfield’s side look to emulate last year’s run where the Leesiders reached the third qualifying round before being knocked out by eventual quarter-finalists KRC Genk of Belgium.
The game will be played in the town of Pärnu, two hours away from the Estonian capital, with renovations continuing on Levadia’s home and no suitable alternative found.
The league leaders started with two midfielders playing in their back four during last Friday’s 2-1 defeat of Derry City, and the City boss is again sweating on the fitness of centre-back Alan Bennett, but the return of Steven Beattie will be more than welcome.
For their part Levadia are also unbeaten in this season’s Mestriliiga, but a disappointing 1-1 draw against Sillamäe Kalev saw them drop to four points behind city rivals Flora, their recent 3-0 Cup win over Nõmme United will have settled nerves ahead of the game, broadcast live on eirSport.
Manager Igor Prins has virtually a full selection to choose from, with Middlesbrough loanee João Morelli and captain Rimo Hunt the dangers.