Dundalk - Zenit Preview: Lilywhites relishing Europa League clash

Dundalk are facing an injury crisis heading into their Europa League clash with Zenit, but manager Stephen Kenny insists that they will go into the game with confidence.

The reigning SSE Airtricity Premier Division champions took a step closer to their third league title in succession on Tuesday as they beat Longford Town to move seven points clear at the top.

However, the volume of games they have been forced to play in a short period is beginning to take its toll as captain Stephen O'Donnell picked up a hamstring injury during the game.

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O'Donnell has subsequently been ruled out of the clash against the Russian giants and he is joined on the sidelines by John Mountney (back), while Sean Gannon (calf) and Chris Shields (groin) are considered major doubts.

Nevertheless, Kenny expects the crowd at Tallaght to "energise" his squad as they look to add to their four points in Group D.

"The players are relishing every moment, they're really looking forward to it. These are the games they want to play in," the Dundalk boss told reporters.

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"They haven't been able to focus on it because the games have been thick and fast in the league, but now that we're here, once the game comes, I'm sure the crowd will energise the players and they can approach the game with great confidence."

In the absence of Stephen O'Donnell, Dundalk will be led out by Andy Boyle and the defender, who was recently linked with a move to the English Championship, is content that they will be ready.

"We know it's going to be a difficult task. They're a good side with some good players," Boyle said. "We'll look at some video to see what they're all about and going into the game we'll be prepared."

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Zenit come into the game against Dundalk in fine form, unbeaten in all competitions this season, and they will be keen to make it three wins from three in Group D.

The Russians have already beaten Maccabi Tel-Aviv and AZ Alkmaar, winning 4-3 and 5-0 respectively.

Among the players available to head coach Mircea Lucescu are Belgium international Axel Witsel, former Manchester City midfielder Javi Garcia and Italy international Domenico Criscito.