INJURED Linfield skipper Michael Gault has backed his team-mates to make their mark in Europe this summer.
The Blues have been drawn against Faroe Islands champions B36 Torshavn in the first qualifying round of the Champions League.
It will be the fifth time the unknown Faroese outfit will have graced European football.
For Irish Premiership champions Linfield it is another foray into the elite competition, with progress very much on their radar in 2012.
Midfielder Gault – who remains sidelined with a fractured toe – believes the incentive is there for the Blues to see off the challenge of Torshavn over two legs next month.
The first leg will take place on July 3/4 with the return leg on July 10/11.
“People might not have heard much about this side but we know it will be a tough test,” Gault said.
“I think it is a tie we can definitely win. In previous years we have had the likes of Dinamo Zagreb, Rosenborg and Elfsborg, and we have always been massive underdogs.
“But I think this time we may be favourites, so it presents a different kind of challenge for the lads.
“I am sure if we turn up with the same intensity as we have shown in past years then we stand a great chance of qualifying.”
If Linfield manage to progress to the second qualifying round they will meet AEL Limassol FC of Cyprus.
“We could have had a much worse draw, so there is a great incentive there for the lads to go out and put in good performances against Torshavn,” Gault added.
“We will do our homework and prepare thoroughly for the games and hopefully we can progress.”
Gault is facing the prospect of sitting out Linfield’s European adventure for the third year in succession.
Two years ago a persistent ankle injury ruled him out of the games against Rosenborg, while last year a knee problem saw him miss the Champions League clashes with BATE Borisov.
Now a fractured toe – sustained at the tail end of last season – will consign him to being a spectator again.
“It is just one of those things,” Gault conceded.
“I picked up the injury at the end of last season and missed the Irish Cup final. We didn’t know the extent of the injury until we X-rayed it recently which showed up the fracture.
“I just have to rest up and try and get ready for the start of the league season.
“I think by resting me over the summer means I can get more out of the season.
“I always listen to the medical advice Terry Hayes (physio) gives me and it has worked to my advantage in recent years.
“It is disappointing to miss the European games, but I am confident the lads can put in a good display and get the results needed to progress.
“It would be a great boost for the club if they could get a wee run in Europe, and it would set us up nicely for the start of the league campaign in August.”