John Caulfield is a passionate figure on the sidelines at Turner’s Cross but he’ll be hoping Cork City can afford him an opportunity to relax tonight, if only to give his heart a break.
“If we can score, the tie is over. It’ll certainly be a big help for my health if we did get the first goal,” he said ahead of tonight’s second leg.
The Cork City boss is taking nothing for granted against Levadia Tallinn but it would be a huge upset if the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division league leaders fail to progress to the Europa League second round. Goals from Garry Buckley and Steven Beattie in Parnu last Thursday leave City in command but Caulfield is never one for counting chickens.
“Levadia’s manager has been saying they can play much better so we’ll see. They will be looking to score, silence the crowd, and make it nervy,” said Caulfield.
“We need to manage the game properly but we feel if we get a goal the tie is over. It’s always a tricky situation. You may think you’re already in the next round but you’re not. You must make sure you approach the game properly. We must give them the respect they deserve. Let’s start well. That’s our challenge.”
City could be without centre-back Alan Bennett once again, with Conor McCormack likely to plug the gap in defence, as he did in the first leg. John Kavanagh has had a recurrence of his hamstring problem and is unlikely to feature.
Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor will be involved tonight as Cork count down towards their departure for Preston at the end of the month. Preston have appointed former Norwich boss Alex Neil to replace Simon Grayson but Caulfield is confident the duo will have nothing to worry about under the new regime at the Championship club.
“Whoever is in charge, they have to prove they can play. It might be even better for them with a new manager, who will treat everyone the same. We’ll wait and see but i’d be optimistic for the two lads. I’d have no fears in that.”
Levadia boss Igor Prins is without suspended Cameroonian central defender Tabi Manga, sent off in the first leg. He is likely to be replaced in defence by Artjom Artjunin.
AEK Larnaca are likely to face the winners tonight in the second qualifying round, as they hold a 5-0 lead over Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps.
Caulfield isn’t going to tempt fate by looking towards Cyprus just yet. “We’ve plenty of time to look at our next opponents if we get through. We just need to get over Thursday first — and Pat’s then on Sunday.”
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