Airtricity Premier Division leaders Sligo Rovers begin their Europa League campaign next week and manager Ian Baraclough is relishing his first taste of European football in charge of the club.
The Bit O’Red take on Slovakian side Spartak Trnava in the Second Qualifying Round and the former Scunthorpe boss is already preparing for the tie, which he admits is a great opportunity on the big stage.
Baraclough will visit Trnava this Saturday to continue his studies of the opposition ahead of the first leg, which takes place Thursday July 19, and watch last year’s Slovakian league runners-up in action as they begin their new season against MFK Kosice.
Speaking to the official Sligo Rovers website, the 41-year-old admitted it will be a tough task to progress but is confident his players can prevail.
“European football is always a wonderful experience for any club and we’re looking forward to this tie. I’m making sure we are as best prepared as we can be and overall our target is to begin the second leg at The Showgrounds with a chance of going through.
"Our league season so far has been very good, we’ve lost just one game and conceding nine goals in 15 matches is excellent. So while Spartak Trnava will provide us with a huge test, it is something we’re relishing and a chance to prove ourselves on the European stage.”
The Sligo tactician, who made over 600 career playing appearances, is leaving nothing to chance and has watched the opposition in great detail.
“They have some experienced players but many of our squad have featured in European games and we’re developing all the time. This tie will help that development,” he concluded.
The club have also announced over 2,000 tickets for the second leg, which takes place on July 26, have already been sold with further tickets to go on sale in the coming days. The game will also see the official opening of the new stand.
Baraclough added that Rovers will look to extend their lead at the top of the Airtricity League when they take on Derry City at the Brandywell on Friday before the squad travel to Slovakia on Tuesday for the first leg.