Belfast Telegraph

Poor run-up doesn't fit bill for Glens' boss Patterson

By Keith Bailie

Glentorn manager Eddie Patterson has labelled his club's preparation for tonight's Europa League tie as farcical. The Irish Cup holders face highly-regarded Slovakian outfit MSK Zilina at The Oval in tonight's first-leg fixture (7.45pm).

Despite the lingering sense of satisfaction in East Belfast after the club won the end of season showpiece just nine weeks ago, Patterson is concerned his side are not in a fit state to take on wealthy full-time club Zilina.

Glentoran will be without Curtis Allen, Jim O'Hanlon and David Scullion due to pre-arranged holidays, while Niall Henderson is injured. To make matters worse, key figures Stephen McAlorum and William Garrett have just returned from their vacations.

Patterson explained: "The preparation hasn't been great. I'm very apprehensive about the fixture for that reason. I've watched a few of their games and they look an excellent side.

"They haven't long finished their season and they started back on June 19. They've won a couple of pre-season friendlies and they look in good nick. They're a very young side, who are full of energy and who score lots of goals.

"Our preparation has been farcical compared to theirs. We've had players going on holiday during the build-up and some players missing the game due to holidays.

"That means we've varying levels of fitness across the team, so when it comes to my team selection I will be picking our fittest 11, rather than our best 11."

Patterson is disappointed that three of his most experienced players will miss tonight's tie due to foreign holidays, but he understands the predicament semi-professional Irish League players find themselves in.

"They're part-time players and the club has no hold on them over the summer. Other clubs in our league pay players for 50 weeks of the year, but we only pay them during the season," he said.

"I've sympathy for the players because they've all got other jobs and they can only get annual leave at certain times of the year.

"I'm more frustrated at the situation than the players. This game has come too early for us. Three weeks isn't ideal preparation for a European game. You need more like five to six weeks of training.

"If you look at the Uefa rankings, they're ranked above the Estonian team Crusaders played on Tuesday. Three seasons ago they lost 2-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. We're under no illusions. We're up against it.

"Ideally you want to go into a tough game like this fully prepared, but we're not.

"Having 11 fit players would give us a chance of being competitive, and that's what this game is about as we have around 150 fans travelling to Slovakia and we want to give them something to shout about when they go out there."

Belfast Telegraph


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