Dundalk boss Giovagnoli says ‘pressure is a privilege’ ahead of Klaksvik tie

Pat McEleney in line to replace suspended Chris Shields as Seán Gannon remains a doubt

Seán Gannon remains a major doubt ahead of Dundalk's Europa League playoff game with Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands on Thursday but Pat McEleney comes firmly back into contention to start with the 28-year-old a strong contender to replace suspended captain Chris Shields in midfield.

A win would be worth more than €2.5 million to the Irish side and put them into Friday’s group stages draw where the likes of Arsenal, Feyenoord and Benfica await.

Recently appointed coach Filippo Giovagnoli acknowledges that the game is comfortably the biggest of his short career in senior management.

“It’s a big, big opportunity,” he says, “but it’s about the club, it’s about the players, and, I think, the entire football nation in Ireland. If Dundalk go through, it is in the interests of everyone, imagine the points in the [coefficient] ranking.”

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Still, he admits that there is pressure on him to engineer another win. “But pressure is a privilege and it’s important to have this kind of privilege in life. I hope we have more of this. Let the pressure come because it means we are successful.”

On paper, at least, the Irish side should be well placed to progress although the manager insists there will be no complacency given the scale of KI’s remarkable 6-1 win over Dinamo Tbilisi last week and the one-off nature of this tie.

“This game is a final,” he observes. “You can say so many words, but this game is a final. And when you are in a final, you want to win to go through, to win a trophy, or to get the opportunity to play on a big stage in Europe.”

For the visitors, the money on offer is an even more glittering prize than for Dundalk and Mikkjal Thomassen’s side come looking to make history too as the first Faroese side to make the group stages of a European club competition.