Shakhytor Soligorsk will face Derry City tonight in the Europa League second qualifying round, but this will not be the first time the club from Belarus have played in the Brandywell!
In fact, Shakhytor were entertained by former Irish League club, Omagh Town, at the Foyleside venue back in 2003 in the Intertoto Cup after the club’s St. Julian’s Road home did not meet the criteria for staging a European game.
Having hammered Aberystwyth Town 9-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying round, Peter Hutton agreed that his side would face a much more difficult task tonight but he wanted his players to enjoy the experience.
“I think it’s very important that local players enjoy every minute of it as so many top players never get the opportunity to play against Continental opposition.”
Byrne and fellow centre-back, Ryan McBride, return to the Derry City defence for tonight’s Europa League second qualifying round encounter but Dean Jarvis, has been ruled out.
The young left-back has sustained a foot injury during last Sunday 5-0 win over Bray Wanderers, but Hutton was delighted to learn that the player had not broken a bone which had been feared.
“X-rays have shown that nothing is broken which is good, but he has damaged ligaments and tendons and, therefore, Dean will not be involved.“Teenager, Michael Duffy, has not trained this week either due to a tight hamstring, so we are not going to take any risks with him. We’ll see how Michael is before the kick-off and I will be guided by our medical team,” added Hutton.
Having viewed recordings of Shakhtyor’s last six league games, Hutton was impressed at what he saw.
“I’ve watched DVDs of their opening league fixtures and they have good players. They appear to be a vastly experienced with four or five of their personnel aged 30 years of age and above,” noted Hutton.
However, he will insist that his players enjoy the experience and try to play to their best of their ability.
“We will all look forward to the challenge, do everything in our power to keep another clean sheet and, hopefully, take an advantage to Belarus next week and see if we can build on that,” he concluded.