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Lose focus and Cliftonville's hard work could be wasted, warns Gerard Lyttle

By Stuart McKinley

Published 07/07/2016

Home advantage: Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle watching the first leg action in Luxembourg
Home advantage: Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle watching the first leg action in Luxembourg

Gerard Lyttle is hoping that home advantage and the element of surprise will seal European progress for Cliftonville. The Reds boss, however, has already warned his players that Europa League opponents Differdange of Luxembourg will not be easily brushed aside.

Substitute Ross Lavery's late goal gave the Solitude side a 1-1 draw in last week's away leg, meaning that a clean sheet would see them through to a second-round meeting with AEK Larnaca of Cyprus or Folgore from San Marino, with the Cypriots winning 3-0 at home in their first leg.

Lyttle knows that relying on his defence to win the tie is a dangerous ploy. He said: "We can't be complacent. As soon as last week's match was over we told the players that it was only half-time and after working so hard to get the goal we can't let it go easily. We play well at home and I believe we are more than capable of going through.

"The first-half last week was a bit like a boxing match. We were sizing each other up and we now know that if we sit off them they can be dangerous. But we will approach things differently this time and I believe that on our day we are as good as anyone."

Cliftonville will bank £160,000 of Uefa cash simply for qualifying for the Europa League and will double their money if they can see off Differdange.

While those in the boardroom may be thinking about the windfall, the money doesn't mean a lot to Lyttle and he believes it means even less to his players.

"When I played in Europe, money was never my motivation. I wanted to do as well as I could against better players," he said. "As a manager I would like to have qualification for the second round on my CV and I think the group is the same.

"The money is important to the club and it may mean I have more of a budget to strengthen the squad, but when the match kicks-off that won't be in my head."

Lyttle will have experienced defender Jaimie McGovern available after he was suspended for last week's first-leg. Chris Ramsey could make his debut following his move from Portadown and Lyttle must decide whether or not to reward Lavery with a start.

Belfast Telegraph

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