Dundalk have injury doubts ahead of Zenit St Petersburg's visit

Dundalk are preparing for one of the biggest nights for an Irish club in Europe with several key players doubtful, manager Stephen Kenny has admitted.

But the upbeat Lilywhites boss has insisted his side will take on Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg with the same confidence that has delivered three straight Irish Premier Division wins.

Hamstrung midfielder Stephen O'Donnell has been ruled out for the clash at Dublin's Tallaght Stadium which will put the Irish underdogs top of Europa League Group D if they continue the recent winning streak.

Doubts also hang over John Mountney, who is struggling with a back injury.

"So, we have four or five who are on the doubtful list at the moment, so we will have to see how they are," said Kenny at a pre-match press conference in Tallaght.

Several players were absent from training on Wednesday and the team physiotherapists are working overtime.

Despite the injury woes and dearth of recovery time after a punishing schedule of domestic and European fixtures, Kenny said his squad are determined to deliver a night to remember.

"It is unprecedented really for an Irish team to be in this position at this stage of the season, and we know that Zenit St Petersburg have a great tradition," he said.

"They have won the competition, they've got a great history in European competition, and we haven't got a history at this level.

"But we are certainly looking forward to it - it is a great occasion for us."

He added: "Everyone is anxious to play, it is a great night for Irish football on such a stage.

"I think all of the players want to play and are keen to play."

Dundalk have enjoyed a strong start to their unlikely European campaign, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0, also at Tallaght, as well as a 1-1 draw at AZ Alkmaar.

At home, the County Louth club are one win away from clinching a third successive Irish Premier Division title.

Kenny said the side would take some confidence into their tie against the Russians from their latest run of wins.

"For us it's been an amazing journey so far, the players are relishing every moment," he said.

"We respect all our opponents but we believe in what we are doing ourselves.

"That has always been the case, and that won't change against Zenit."

Dundalk defender Andy Boyle said the sell-out fixture will be a big night for Irish sport.

"Obviously Zenit have got great pedigree in Europe, they've been in the Champions League numerous times," he said.

"They've got some big names, but it is great for us to be involved.

"We know it's going to be a very difficult task, but going into the game we will be prepared.

"As a team we like playing here, we have had some big results over the last few weeks, it is a big occasion for the league and a big night for Irish sport.

"We are looking forward to it, we will give a good account of ourselves."

KEYWORDS: soccer, dundalk

 

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