Football: Test of nerves for Killie in Dublin

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The Independent Online
The Kilmarnock striker Paul Wright is still a doubtful starter for today's European Cup-Winners' Cup tie with the Dublin side Shelbourne at Tolka Park after injuring his shoulder in Saturday's 4-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road.

Wright scored both goals, the first a penalty on the hour and then the winner in the third minute of injury time when Kilmarnock edged home 2- 1 in the first leg at Rugby Park a fortnight ago. His absence would be a major setback for the Scottish Cup holders.

"Paul will be having treatment right up to kick-off time, but it may be that he will stay on the subs bench and be sprung at some stage of the game," said the manager, Bobby Williamson. "An early goal would suit us fine. But the days of Scottish clubs going hell for leather in European competitions are over. We have got to be patient."

The fact that Kilmarnock have conceded 10 goals in their last two games - a 6-2 defeat by First Division Stirling Albion in the Coca-Cola Cup and then the 4-0 loss to Hibernian in the Premier Division - is a matter of concern to Williamson.

"Those scorelines were not really a true reflection of the play. We know we can do much better and with some 2,000 Killie fans travelling to Dublin, we want to repay them for those two setbacks," he added.

With Wright doubtful, the former Scottish international Pat Nevin seems a certain starter and he will have a key role to play as Kilmarnock bid to reach the next round.

Shelbourne's manager, Damien Richardson, hopes to field a double strike force of Dessie Baker and Stephen Geoghegan as the Irish club go for the goal that could see them in the draw for the next round in Zurich tomorrow morning.

Baker, once on Manchester United's books, will have late treatment on an ankle injury picked up in the 3-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers in a League Cup tie on Friday. But all the indications are that like Geoghegan, he will have recovered sufficiently from injury to start.

The former Coventry City midfielder Tony Sheridan will be the key man for Shelbourne who know that a 1-0 win will be enough to grab the glory after Mark Rutherford's precious away goal a fortnight ago.

"Even if we did grab an early goal we would not revert to a defensive strategy," said Richardson. "We are just not capable of playing that way. It's not the standard in Europe nowadays as was proven when Celtic had that 7-5 aggregate win over Tirol Innsbruck."

Glenavon's manager, Nigel Best, will be relying on the power of the telephone when his side take on Legia Warsaw in tomorrow's European Cup-Winners' Cup preliminary round second leg in Poland.

Best is a Belfast schoolteacher and is unable to travel to Warsaw because the game clashes with a seminar which he is conducting. He intends keeping in touch with his assistant, Colin McCurdy, by a 90-minute telephone satellite link between Belfast and Warsaw.

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