One of Wolves’ potential opponents in the Europa League admits their WhatsApp group ‘lit up’ when were drawn against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Crusaders defender Sean Ward admits excitement spread through the squad online after Wednesday’s Europa League draw in Switzerland teed up a possible high-profile date with Wolves.
Wolves will meet either the Northern Irish outfit or B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands in the second qualifying round on July 25 and August 1. It will be their first game in Europe for over 39 years, since losing 3-2 on aggregate to PSV Eindhoven in October 1980.
But experienced defender Ward admits Crusaders have a tough task before earning the right to play Premier League opposition.
“There’s no denying it’s a huge incentive and I’d be lying if I said players weren’t talking about the draw after it was made,” said the 35-year-old. “Our Whatsapp Group lit up a bit, but there are enough players in the group to rein things back in again.
“Potentially it’s a brilliant draw against Premier League opposition, but the message is also one of ‘hold on, we still have a job to do’.
“It would be lovely if we could guarantee a European tie against Wolves, but we can’t. The only way we do that is if we perform to our best and get the better of B36.
“You can’t ignore the carrot dangling in front of us and playing a club of Wolves’ history and stature represents a high profile tie, but our full focus is on B36 Torshavn.
“And if facing Wolves is a massive incentive for us, you can be sure it will be the same for Torshavn. They will be thinking the same way as us.”
Irish League clubs have often had the better of Faroese opposition in recent times, Ward accepts dates with clubs from the North Atlantic are often ’50-50 games’.
He was part of a Linfield team that narrowly beat NSI Runavik 5-4 on aggregate in the Europa League four years ago.
He also recalls the Blues’ securing another narrow 3-2 aggregate win over B36 in the same competition in 2014, although he didn’t feature in either leg of that year’s tie.
“At Linfield we beat the likes of Torshavn and Runavik, but both ties were very difficult,” he said. “They had a very similar style to Irish League teams and were very direct, so I know from personal experience that Faroese clubs are very difficult to beat.”
Crusaders , who lost 7-1 on aggregate to Fulham in the Europa League eight years ago, host B36 at their Seaview on July 11, with the return leg a week later.