EUROPA LEAGUE: Kenny Shiels relishing Derry City's Euro test against 'well-oiled' Danish outfit

KENNY SHIELS insists his injury stricken Derry City will go into tonight's Europa League first round first leg tie in Denmark in a positive frame of mind despite facing 'huge issues'.

Thursday, 29th June 2017, 12:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:33 am
Derry City manager, Kenny Shiels is hoping his side can cause the shock of the round when they meet Danish club, FC Midtiylland in Herning tonight.

The City boss who arrived in Herning on Wednesday afternoon, insists the Foylesiders are 'massive underdogs' as they bid to cause the shock of the round against the 2015 Danish Super Liga champions, FC Midtiylland.

And despite facing injuries to key personnel with influential playmaker, Barry McNamee (ankle) and in-form defender, Conor McDermott (groin) missing out, Shiels reckons the Foylesiders go into the game with 'confidence'.

And he's relishing the club's long awaited return to European action for the first time since reaching the second qualifying round where they were dumped out by Shakhtyor Soligorsk in the 2014/15 campaign, losing 6-1 on aggregate.

"It's going to be very difficult for us," said the City boss. "We're hampered quite a bit by the absence of Conor McDermott and Barry McNamee which is two major blows.

"Dean Jarvis is also carrying an abductor strain while Mark Timlin has a back problem. So you've got all those huge issues to contend with and then you have the quality of the opponent.

"I don't want to sound totally negative and dispirited because we have to go in with a positive frame of mind but they are massive losses for us.

"But I'm sure the players will be right up for this and if we can reproduce the intensity we did on Friday night (against Cork) then we go there with good anticipation."

Shiels has rubbished suggestions that the 'slick' Danish outfit, FC Midtiylland will be disadvantaged going into tonight's Europa League first round, first leg tie by being currently out of season while the Candystripes are midway through their SSE Airtricity League campaign.

"They've only been out of season about 12 days," he said. "They won the playoff to qualify for Europe after finishing fourth.

"They finished on June 6th and have played a friendly on Saturday. You don't lose your fitness or your sharpness for about four, five or six weeks.

"They've had a full season. They're very slick. They're going to be a great opponent to play and we go there with confidence."

The Danish club are second only to Athletic Madrid in Europe for their goals from set-pieces ratio and boast the services of former Real Madrid and Spurs midfielder, Rafael van der Vaart and Nigerian striker, Paul Onuachu who netted 18 times in the league last season.

Having defeated Manchester United 2-1 at home in the third qualifying round in 2016 before losing heavily at Old Trafford in the return leg, Shiels is fully aware of the challenge facing his young side.

"I have to say they are a well oiled outfit. They've had 20 games in Europe in the last three seasons. So they have that vast experience.

"These are good challenges for us. We definitely are massive underdogs but we have a chance of doing very well."