Thursday 21 March 2019

Swede dreams made of this for hoop Carr

Europa League AIK v Shamrock Rvs (Live on Eir Sport 1, 6pm)

Inside knowledge: Dan Carr used to play in Sweden before joining Shamrock Rovers
Inside knowledge: Dan Carr used to play in Sweden before joining Shamrock Rovers

Many have tried but few have succeeded.

And Shamrock Rovers know they face a mammoth task in Stockholm tonight to keep an interest in the Europa League. Yet Hoops striker Dan Carr, who has an insight into the game in Sweden due to a spell in the lower leagues there before he joined Rovers, claims the Dublin club have nothing to fear when they face AIK in the Friends Arena tonight.

"It can be done," Carr says of the task facing Rovers, trying to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit and advance to the second round and a likely meeting with Danish outfit Midtjylland.

"We saw in the first leg that they are beatable. We dominated the game for long spells, they had one chance and took it and that's the difference at this level, in Europe if you get a chance you have to take it."


Impressive: Dylan Watts adds another dimension to the Rovers attack
Impressive: Dylan Watts adds another dimension to the Rovers attack

It's not just the difficulty of taking on an AIK team that had eight senior internationals in the side which beat Rovers 1-0 in Dublin last week (though they didn't include new signing Seb Larsson as he's not eligible for this round, the winger on World Cup duty with Sweden when AIK were registering their players).

It's also history. Irish clubs have played in Sweden 14 times in European competition, going back to 1979 and Waterford's visit to Gothernburg.

In those 14 trips, teams from Ireland managed to win on Swedish soil just twice: a 1-0 win for Cork City away to Malmo in 2004 and Derry City's 1-0 win in Gotnenburg in 2006. Since then it's been five trips to Sweden and no wins, so Rovers have a big task on their hands to win in the Friends Arena.

Carr (24) will at least see some friendly faces at the game, as some pals from his spell in Sweden, with fourth-tier side Karlstadt, plan to come along and cheer him on.

"Karlstadt is about four hours from Stockholm but a few of my friends have said they will come down and support me," says the much-travelled striker, who joined Rovers at the start of this season.

"I had a good time when I was in Sweden so it will be good to go back. I scored a few goals, but it was a different level of football.

"I played in the fourth division, but I played against one of the top clubs, Orebro, in the Swedish Cup so I know how teams play.

"It won't be easy as they will have a big support and they expect to progress but we showed we are a good side and I can see is going to Sweden and getting a positive result," Carr added.

"I know they have a lot of international players in their side, but they are at the same stage of the competition as us.


"We shouldn't feel inferior and we showed in the first leg that we can match them. It comes down to taking your chances, they took theirs in Tallaght. If we get chances tonight, we have to take them.

"We created chances but we have to finish them off, it's all about concentration levels, if you let them away with something they will punish you. I know we will create, it's a matter of finishing."

New signing Dylan Watts gave an indication of what he can add to Rovers with a sparkling display in the home leg against AIK, the ex-Bohemians man already fitting in.

"Dylan is a big addition for us, he's great on the ball and gives you an attacking impetus, he's great to have and he has done well in the European games," Carr says.

Rovers boss Bradley will consider changes to his side, a possible starting role for recent signing Aaron Greene after an impressive debut off the bench at home to AIK, while 16-year-old Gavin Bazunu hopes to keep his place in goal.

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