SHAMROCK Rovers boss Stephen Kenny will head off to Lithuania on a spying mission next weekend to check out the side which stands between his club and a place in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.
But the Hoops manager has raised a note of caution ahead of the Euro clash with Lithuanian champions Ekranas, and has pointed out to Rovers fans that, despite last season's heroics in the Europa League group stages, the Baltic side are ranked above his club.
Ekranas, who are the current league leaders in Lithuania, have only one scheduled game between now and the first leg of their clash with Rovers in Dublin -- a league game next Sunday -- and Kenny intends to head to the Baltic region to see his opponents in the flesh.
"We need to do our homework and I will go over there over the weekend to see them for myself," Kenny told the Evening Herald today.
"They're due to have a game on Sunday, and that will be my only chance to see them up close. I need to see them with my own eyes; you can only learn so much from a DVD.
"The draw could have been a lot worse. We could have been drawn against someone like Basel -- who knocked out Manchester United last year -- so when you consider that, Ekranas look like a decent draw and it's a tie we can win.
"We were unfortunate not to be seeded in the draw as the team did so well last year and you'd think that would have had us seeded, but the seedings are done over a five-year period."
Kenny has already done his homework on Ekranas -- who were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Cork City in 2005 -- and points out that it's a stable, well-run club.
"They've won the league four years in a row, won two doubles and they've had the same manager for four years so that's a bonus for them," said Kenny.
"They have a Georgian and a Lithuanian international and a few African players in their ranks, so they are a good team. They have continuity and stability and that's important for clubs like this.
"It's not beyond us to win the tie and go through and if we prepare well we can progress, but I know it will be a tough tie," added Kenny.
The Rovers boss is relishing a return to European battle, three years after his last when Kenny's Derry City side beat Latvian opposition before losing to CSKA Sofia.
"I really enjoy Europe," said Kenny, who managed in European competition for the first time with Longford Town 11 years ago.