Dundalk’s Michael Duffy faces nervous wait before Europa League qualifier
Lilywhites star may miss out on the tie with Levadia Tallinn due to injury
Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny could be without one of his most in-form players for this evening’s Europa League first qualifying round first leg tie against Levadia Tallinn (kick-off 5pm Irish time).
Michael Duffy is a major doubt for the tie at the Kadriorg Stadium having limped out of last Friday’s 3-1 win away to St Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park with a groin injury.
The Derry man has been in scintillating form so far this season with nine goals and 17 assists in 25 league matches to date. However, speaking at the pre-match press conference Kenny says the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders are well equipped to cope without the 23-year-old winger.
“We’ve got a good squad,” said Kenny.
“We’ve been missing various players at various parts of the season and we have the capacity to overcome it.”
The Lilywhites boss said switching Dylan Connolly to the left wing, where he largely played during his time at Bray Wanderers, was one option open to him if Duffy was unavailable.
As well as Duffy, fellow Derryman Dean Jarvis is also doubtful with a hip flexor injury while Stephen O’Donnell (broken leg) and Stephen Folan (knee) haven’t travelled to Estonia.
At this stage last year Dundalk’s domestic rivals Cork City beat Levadia 6-2 on aggregate, including a 2-0 first leg win away from home. Since then the Estonians have merged with 2016 Meistriliiga champions FC Infonet Tallinn, with just six survivors from last year in new coach Aleksandar Rogic’s squad.
Kenny says this makes the tie a much more difficult proposition than many are anticipating.
“There have been big changes this year with Levadia,” he said.
“They’ve a new Serbian coach, some new players and they’re a good team.
“They’re a very attacking team who have four good forwards so it’s set up to be an interesting game.
“They have two very good attacking wingers who are both aggressive and two centre forwards. In particular Roman Debelko their Ukrainian striker has been amongst the goals so he’s one to watch.”
Kenny also dismissed the idea that his side were firm favourites to advance to the second qualifying round against AEK Larnaca.
“We don’t look at it like that. It’s a very tough game and we have a battle on our hands to win and we have to earn the right to win.
“You can never take anything for granted in Europe,” he said.