Dundalk confident of Duffy availability

Dundalk are confident of having winger Michael Duffy available for tonight’s Champions League first qualifying round second-leg tie against Riga FC in Skonto Stadium.

Dundalk confident of Duffy availability

Dundalk are confident of having winger Michael Duffy available for tonight’s Champions League first qualifying round second-leg tie against Riga FC in Skonto Stadium.

The 24-year-old travelled with the squad to Dublin Airport ahead of their flight to Latvia on Monday but left the airport to travel back to his native Derry after his pregnant partner Emily was retained in hospital following a check-up.

While she had yet to give birth as of yesterday evening’s press conference, head coach Vinny Perth said the mum-to-be had told the former Celtic player to board a flight to meet up with the squad.

Perth said he was unsure which flight Duffy would be getting but said there were options open from Belfast last night or from Dublin this morning.

“We’re expecting the baby to be born this evening so there’s a flight out of Belfast that he could do tonight or there’s one out of Dublin in the morning but she is trying to get him to go on the one now,” said Perth.

While the reigning PFAI Player of the Year is a crucial part of the Dundalk side, Perth said he had not pressurised Duffy to make the trip.

“It’s a massive decision,” he said.

“The first child is obviously different than the second child. It shouldn’t be but it is. It’s pretty clear that you don’t get involved in them decisions. You leave it to the player to make the decision and 90% of the time I think the player makes the right decision about what’s right for their life and that’s the way that I would look at it.

“Michael is not somebody that you necessarily pressure or say anything to because he probably wouldn’t react well to being put under any sort of pressure.

His decision is a life decision. We all want to make football decisions over the next 24 hours but I fully respect whatever decision he makes. To be fair to him, he’s going to be making it in conjunction with ourselves.

“We know exactly what is happening and we have plan B, C, and D ready. We’re prepared for a flight later on this evening or a flight first thing in the morning so we’re prepared for it and we’re also prepared for him not being here.”

Midfielder Chris Shields, who was substituted at half-time in last week’s first leg after a collision with team-mate Daniel Cleary, is expected to be available for the tie, evenly poised at 0-0.

Perth said he wasn’t expecting much different from Riga but was confident his side could nick an away goal.

“I expect it to be fairly similar in terms of styles,” he said.

“I don’t think they will have the same gameplan as such but this pitch could suit us a little bit better than Oriel.

“I think this game will go to the last half hour to get the winner out of the tie. I expect that.

“I have a feeling there might be goals in the game.

We have a good record of scoring goals but every game is different. I think our front players are in good form and we think there’s goals in our team.

"Set pieces will be important for both teams but it’s often set pieces that change big games or your bench and I think we’re in a strong place in terms of our bench as well,” he said.

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