Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter under no illusions ahead of big showdown at Tele2 Arena

Stephen Baxter surveys training in Sweden ahead of Thursday's game
Stephen Baxter surveys training in Sweden ahead of Thursday's game

Focused boss Stephen Baxter is under no illusions as he prepares for Crusaders’ next Europa League mission on Thursday.

The Crues are in Sweden to face IF Brommapojkarna – a side rooted to the bottom of their domestic Allsvenskan league.

Fourteen games into the season and IF have managed just one victory.

It paints a picture of a side leaning on the ropes, but Baxter has warned his players of complacency ahead of this Europa League second qualifying round, second leg tie at the impressive Tele2 Arena.

“We haven’t really dwelled on their league position – we are not reading too much into it,” Baxter said.

“They may be struggling a little bit, but they have drawn with league leaders Malmo and Elfsborg, who are fifth in the table, in recent weeks.

“That shows you what they are capable of, and we know this is going to be a massive hurdle for us.”

Crusaders are riding on the crest of a wave following a 5-2 aggregate win over Lithuanian side FK Ekranas in the first qualifying round.

It saw the Shore Road side progress in Europe for the first time in their history.

IF – who qualified for the Europa League via UEFA’s Fair Play competition – edged past Finnish side VPS 3-2 on aggregate in the last round.