Caddell ready for Europa challenge

Crusaders Declan Caddell is ready for Europa football
Crusaders Declan Caddell is ready for Europa football

Declan Caddell is a self-confessed ‘football geek’, yet it is his compulsive fact-gathering which could help him prepare for Europe.

Crusaders take on FK Ekranas on Thursday night at Seaview in the first leg of their Europa League preliminary, and the midfielder has already armed himself with research.

Speaking at the club’s kit launch, he said: “I’m a bit of a football geek so I have been online looking at websites about them and videos.

“They are professional side but I do think they are beatable. The big problem is that they are in the middle of their season whereas we have only had a couple of training sessions but we had a good run-out on Saturday against Airbus which will help.

“The last three years have been great, drawing Fulham and then Rosenborg twice but the boys really wanted a tie we had a realistic chance of winning this year.

“We will have a real go at them and that whereas in the past three years it has been more about trying to give a good account of ourselves.”

Caddell was shown a straight red during Crusaders’ 3-0 loss to Rosenborg in 2012, for a heavy lunge on Borek Dockal minutes after he scored the visitors’ second, although he says he’s learned a tough lesson.

While his overall disciplinary record has improved domestically, he’s determined to play the right way in Europe this time around.

He added: “It’s been a while since I played in Europe so I can’t wait. I made a big mistake two years ago getting sent off against Rosenborg but I’ve learnt my lesson from that night.

“There was no bigger heartache than travelling to Norway last year with the boys watching them play in a big stadium, knowing I couldn’t.

“I think that was the main reason the manager took me, to make sure I knew what I was missing.

“He took me aside when we were training on the pitch and pointed out what I was missing and it has done me the world of good.”

The North Belfast club have strengthened already this summer, in anticipation of a long pre-season, by signing former Linfield ace Billy Joe Burns, ex-Cliftonville man Diarmuid O’Carroll and talented winger, Stephen Cockcroft, from H&W Welders.

Caddell’s backed all three to impress from the outset, labelling them “quality signings”.

“Billy Joe and Stephen did really well on Saturday but Diarmuid is just home from his honeymoon so he is a week or so behind.

“They are three quality signings but the rest of us want to improve as well.

“Year by year I try to improve on my weaknesses and I judge myself on that. There will be a lot of competition for places with Chris Morrow, Richard Clarke and Matthew Snoddy all pushing for places so I want to hit the ground running.”