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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Valletta look sure to outclass Folgore in Europa battle

Irish teams in strong positions

St Johnstone may opt not to risk Steven MacLean on Trakai's artificial pitch
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First qualifying round, second legs
From 3pm Thursday

Rangers were dumped out of the Europa League by Luxembourg minnows Progres Niedercorn on Tuesday and fellow Scottish side St Johnstone are also at risk of elimination after last week's 2-1 home loss to Lithuanian outfit FK Trakai.

St Johnstone are still without injured captain Steven Anderson and the artificial pitch could lead to the exclusion of star striker Steven MacLean, who has suffered from knee problems in recent years.

MacLean has travelled but will be assessed by Saints manager Tommy Wright, who admits it would be a risk to start the 34-year-old.

Brian Easton and Paul Paton are carrying knocks after the first leg and face last fitness tests.

Left back Vaidas Silenas is suspended for the hosts after his red card in the opening leg but Trakai are 1-4 favourites to progress to the next round.

League of Ireland clubs Cork City and Shamrock Rovers are in strong positions after claiming away wins in their first-leg clashes at Levadia Talinn and Stjarnan.

Cork lead 2-0 and are just 2-5 to win the second leg at Turner's Cross, while Rovers, who hold a 1-0 advantage after their trip to Iceland, are 5-6 to follow up with a victory in Dublin.

Valletta look solid odds-on favourites to win their second leg away to San Marino outfit Folgore.

The Maltese side lead 2-0 after the first leg but should have achieved a more handsome advantage after dominating the shot count 12-0.

Folgore, who qualified as losing semi-finalists in the San Marino championship, have lost all nine of their previous European ties and face another defeat against Valletta, who ran Red Star Belgrade close in Champions League qualifying last season before losing both legs

4pts 4-7 Betfred

The Maltese side should have achieved a more handsome advantage after dominating the shot count 12-0
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