Bohemians ready togamble on Hawkins

BOHEMIANS manager Stephen Kenny is ready to gamble on the fitness of centre-back Colin Hawkins for tonight’s attractive UEFA Champions League first round, second leg, qualifier against BATE Borisov of Belarus at Dalymount Park (7.45).

The combative Hawkins is critical to Bohs’ efforts to overturn a 0-1 deficit from the first leg. His experience is needed to overcome the absence of other injured colleagues.

Manager Kenny yesterday identified the task of keeping BATE scoreless as the most important for Bohs as they attempt to build on their impressive record in Europe in recent seasons. Bohs have plenty of scoring potential but to concede a goal would be to surrender the initiative to their visitors.

Hawkins is struggling to overcome an achilles tendon injury and should not have played in the first leg. He was pressed into service, however, by the absence of Derek Coughlan and by the inexperience of the Bohs’ reserve centre-backs, Ken Oman and Jason McGuinness.

Kenny paired Hawkins with Thomas Heary for the first leg and they both immediately struck an understanding that was hugely important as Bohs gave BATE a real battle. But Bohs’ failure to score away from home means there is now even more need for them not to sacrifice any defensive strength and to content themselves with seeking the two goals they need to win from a conservative game plan. Bohs can boast of one of the most talented and well-balanced attacking units in the league. They showed how lethal they can be less than two weeks ago when they crushed Waterford 5-1.

In Glen Crowe they have the league’s top striker and with Bobby Ryan and Mark Rutherford offering pace and skill on the flanks they have plenty of players to fire the ammunition provided by central midfielders Stephen Caffrey and Kevin Hunt.

Kenny commented: “This tie is in the balance and we are fully aware that if BATE Borisov score an away goal, it could swing the outcome in their favour. I am not thinking about that scenario as I really do believe we have a real chance of reaching the second round. The fans will see that in our approach to the game.

“An early goal for us would work wonders. We need to impose our authority on this game right from the start if we are to book our place in the second round against top Norwegian side Rosenborg,” said Kenny.

Paul McNally is on stand-by if Hawkins fails a fitness test.

The prospect of playing Rosenborg is a huge incentive for Bohs who can boast of wins over Aberdeen Cup and over the Germans Kaiserslautern in one leg of a UEFA Cup tie in recent seasons.

Bohemians (probable): Gregg; Lynch, Heary, Hawkins, Webb; Ryan, Caffrey, Hunt, Rutherford; Crowe, Doyle.

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