FC Astra v Inverness preview

Date published: Wednesday 22nd July 2015 2:02

The Scottish Cup winners are in Romania for their second qualifying round second leg against Astra Giurgiu, hoping to a retrieve a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in Inverness.

Striker Dani Lopez, defender Nat Wedderburn and keeper Owain Fon Williams made their debuts last week and are expected to be involved again on Thursday night.

Richie Foran had a six-minute cameo in the first leg after 16 months out with a knee injury and he is likely to start on the bench again. Defender Carl Tremarco and midfielder James Vincent have not travelled  

With the temperature forecast to be 28 degrees at kick-off, the odds would appear to be stacked against John Hughes’ European debutants, but Draper insists all is not lost. 

He told the Inverness Courier: “They will be used to the heat and it will be very tough for us, and they might think this is all done and dusted.

“But it isn’t. We have the ability to keep the ball well and make them do the running. The climate is just something we have to deal with but it’s not the only factor.

“We saw what they were like in the first leg, they went to ground a lot and I knew I had to watch the tackles because of how they were reacting. You have to be very careful and it is very important we keep 11 players on the pitch.

“The first goal is important but not do-or-die because two from us would put us through. If we were 3-0 down and I was saying the tie was in the balance I would be lying but the way it stands right now, I genuinely do believe it is.”

A possible tie against West Ham United – who lead 1-0 from their first leg against Birkirkara – is the incentive for the winners and Hughes believes a trip to Upton Park in the third qualifying round is not just a pipe dream.

He said: “I think Astra are vulnerable and they just got beat 5-1 (in a league game) a couple of days ago.

“We’re going to be right in it and will have to carry a bit of luck; I expect it to go right down to the wire. No matter how we go about the tie, someone’s going to have to be a hero and come up with the goods. I’m confident we can do that.” 

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