Sports Update: Key Dundalk winger an injury doubt for Europa League qualifier

Manager Stephen Kenny says Michael Duffy is doubtful for the clash with Levadia Tallinn due to a groin injury.

STEPHEN KENNY’S HOPES of a sixth European victory in charge of Dundalk have taken a hit after the highly rated winger Michael Duffy was revealed as a doubt for tonight’s Europa League qualifier with Levadia Tallinn.

The Foylesider limped off in the second half of Friday’s league win against St. Patrick’s Athletic, having provided assist number 18 of the campaign for Chris Shields’ strike. Add to this his nine goals and April’s Player of the Month claim, and the significance of his potential absence becomes evident.

Nonetheless, with Dylan Connolly primed to debutise on the left flank, Kenny has insisted that his team can account for the 23-year-old’s absence.

“Michael Duffy is doubtful with a groin injury,” Kenny said at last night’s press conference.

“But we have been missing various players at different parts of the season and we have the capacity to overcome it.

“We never rely on any player in isolation, we’ve never done that. It’s all about a collective effort.”

Dean Jarvis, Stephen O’Donnell and Stephen Folan are also out, with the latter pair having been marked absent from the travelling convoy altogether.

The Lilywhites boss has previous with Levadia having been in charge of Bohemians when they were knocked out by the Estonians in the 2004 UEFA Cup first round. Kenny was subsequently dismissed.

But, regardless of the outcome, his future is unlikely to come under scrutiny 14 years on, with Dundalk firm favourites for progression and a date with AEK Larnaca in the next round.

Nonetheless, the 46-year-old is wary of the challenge that lies ahead.

“There are big changes this year with Levadia. They have got a new coach, a Serbian coach and they have got some new players and they’re a good team.

“They’re a very attacking team, they seem to really be attacking with four forwards so it’s set up for a very interesting game overall.”

Victory over Levadia, who bowed out to Cork City at this stage last season, would be Dundalk’s first European victory in seven attempts since overcoming Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the 2016 group stages.

However, they enter with the confidence of 13 consecutive wins in all competitions behind them.

“I wouldn’t even consider viewing life like that (six without a win). You have to view it in a different way. I think we’re on a terrific run of 10 straight (league) victories.

“Our performances last year in Europe were exceptional. To take a club like Rosenborg to the last minute of extra-time and hit the bar, (but) it’s all irrelevant now.”

He added: “Levadia have a really strong team. They’re having a good season and they’re a new team. We’re going to have to earn the right to win and it’s our intention to do so.

“We know that we’re going to have to roll our sleeves up.”

Around 100 visiting supporters are expected for the match with kick-off set for 7pm locally, 5pm Irish time.

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