Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Europa League: Baird relishing trip home to face Crusaders

Northern Ireland defender Chris Baird says the prospect of a trip back to his homeland next week to face Crusaders will help motivate him for Fulham's Europa League encounter at Faroese minnows NSI Runavik tonight.

The County Antrim-born defender and his team mates head into the first qualifying round clash against NSI boasting a 3-0 lead from the first leg at Craven Cottage, with the winners meeting the Crues next Thursday.

While Baird insists the Cottagers will not take NSI lightly, the former Southampton man admits he is buoyed by the prospect of a possible trip to Belfast.

“It would be nice obviously to get back to Ireland. I don't go back much myself,” he said.

“It would be another tough game because I know what to expect from them.

“It's not easy going away to any team and as I said before, we've got the quality in the team and we're getting fit, and we'll be raring to go.”

Baird and international team-mate Aaron Hughes are the only two Fulham players to have travelled to the Faroe Islands before, having faced the national team last October in a European Championship qualifier.

“It's up on a big hill — it's windy, cold — not the best facilities,” Baird said, speaking of the Svangaskard Stadium, Toftir. “But we have to go there and do the job.

“You have to treat every team with respect, no matter who they are,” he added.

“It's down to us. We know that we're the better team, with great experience and good players.

“We have to go there and do the job, get a win.

“It's nice to see these different places. Obviously I've been there before, so I know what to expect.

“I'm sure for other players it will be an eye-opener because there's not a lot there and not a lot to do.”

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