Shamrock Rovers' Champions League opponents FK Ekranas release players as financial trouble intensifies

Lithuanian club FK Ekranas, who face Shamrock Rovers in the Champions League this week, have been forced to release a number of key players due to financial trouble at the club
Shamrock Rovers' European challenge looks to have been made more manageable as their Champions League Second Qualifying Round opponents, FK Ekranas, have been forced to release some of their high earners to ease financial strain at the club.

The Lithuanian champions have parted company with international striker Andrius Velička, who scored 17 goals in 43 league games for the club after signing for the Blue Reds last year. The 33-year-old was formerly on the books at Rangers, for whom he scored four goals in eight games after a £1 million transfer to Ibrox. Loan moves to Bristol City and Aberdeen followed before he returned to Lithuania in 2011.

Ekranas have also parted company with midfielders Mantas Savėnas and Ramūnas Radavičius. Both players are Lithuanian internationals, and have contributed important goals for the A Lyga club. Radavicius, 31, has 17 caps for his country, while 29-year-old Savenas has five goals in 38 appearances for Lithuania.

Žilvinas Kymantas and Edvinas Girdvainis have been drafted in as replacements, but neither player has the experience of the released trio, with 19-year-old Girdvainis joining after impressing on trial, and Kymantas signing from 11th-placed FK Atlantas.

The club released a statement on their official website saying that the financial problems were "only temporary, and will not affect the club's upcoming matches," but also stated that more players may have to leave the club to ensure Ekranas' survival.

FK Ekranas warmed up for Tuesday's Champions League tie in Tallaght with a 2-1 loss to Legia Warsaw in Poland.