Skovdahl shrugs off Collins' mind games

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The Independent Online

The aberdeen coach, Ebbe Skovdahl, has refused to enter into a war of words with his Bohemians counterpart, Roddy Collins, ahead of tonight's Uefa Cup first round first leg qualifying tie at Pittodrie.

The aberdeen coach, Ebbe Skovdahl, has refused to enter into a war of words with his Bohemians counterpart, Roddy Collins, ahead of tonight's Uefa Cup first round first leg qualifying tie at Pittodrie.

Collins has suggested that Skovdahl, at 55, is too old for the post. The cocky Irishman, making his European debut as a manager, even went as far as saying that Skovdahl, a veteran of 57 European ties, should stand aside and let him take the reins at the Dons.

However Skovdahl would not retaliate. "He has to be a lot more personal to offend me," the Dane said. "I'm concentrating on what we have to do. I know his brother was a boxer and they talk a lot before a fight - maybe that's where he gets it from." Skovdahl has received a substantial boost ahead of the game with the news that his Moroccan pair, Rachid Belabed and Hicham Zerouali, have recovered from injuries.

The Hearts midfielder Lee Makel is determined to make an impact this season after finally breaking into manager Jim Jefferies' plans. The 27-year-old almost left Tynecastle for a move to Portsmouth after a two-month loan spell but was convinced his future lay in Edinburgh. Now, with just one year left on his contract, Makel insists he will give "110 per cent" and he intends to start with Hearts' Uefa Cup qualifier against the Icelandic side IBV Vestmannyjar.

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, insists his side are relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with Europe's biggest clubs in the next stages of the Uefa Cup. The former Leicester manager flew out with a strong squad to Luxembourg yesterday expecting them to easily overcome Jeunesse d'Esch tonight. "It would be fantastic if we get through this stage here and then I genuinely wouldn't mind who we drew," O'Neill said. "I wouldn't mind if it was the biggest side in European football outside the European Cup, I wouldn't mind that one jot at all and I don't think the lads would either."

Meirion Appleton believes that Bangor City's youngsters can fly the flag for Wales in Europe by upsetting the Swedish club Halmstad at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground. The Welsh Cup winners travel 60 miles east from their crumbling Farrar Road home to meet the Swedes and manager Appleton said: "The average age of my squad is 22. We know Halmstad are very good technically, but I honestly believe we'll give them a few problems."

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