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Monday 24 July 2017

Bradley's Icelandic reconnaissance

Rovers boss Stephen Bradley. SPORTSFILE
Rovers boss Stephen Bradley. SPORTSFILE

Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley says he's upbeat about his side's chances in the Europa League after a weekend scouting mission to Iceland.

Having overseen Friday's 4-1 win at home to Drogheda United, Bradley flew out to Iceland on Saturday to spy on Stjarnan, the Hoops' Europa League opponents with the first leg in Iceland on Thursday. Stjarnan, heavily beaten by Celtic in the Champions League preliminary rounds two years ago, drew 2-2 at home to strugglers IA on Saturday, giving Bradley food for thought.

"If we play to the best of our abilities, we have a good chance," says Bradley.

"Stjarnan are a good side, very strong from set pieces, it should be an even tie as they'd be of a similar standard to ourselves. But if we play to the levels we are capable of, we can win over two legs."

The Rovers boss was also able to see what to expect in terms of atmosphere in Gardabaer, Stjarnan's home town just outside the capital Reykjavik, as Saturday's league game had a crowd of just 680.

"It's good to see up close what it will be like, it's a small stadium with one main stand, so I can feed all the information I have back to the players," added Bradley, who will assess knocks to Trevor Clarke and Ronan Finn before departure to Iceland.

"We will have several chats before we fly out on Wednesday but it was good to get a handle on things in terms of travel, hotel, stadium and what the players can expect.

"It was a tight game on Saturday, Stjarnan were winning 2-1 but the away side scored in the last few minutes.

"They are a physical side, long throw-ins and very good on set plays, so we will do our homework and be ready for them," added Bradley.

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