The Danske Bank Premiership’s two remaining European representatives are clearer on their path to the Europa Conference League group stage after today’s Playoff round draw.
David Healy’s Linfield, who enjoyed a 4-0 aggregate victory over Bosnian champions Borac Banja Luka last week will face Fola Esch of Luxembourg on Tuesday night at Windsor Park in the first of two legs in the third qualifying round.
Victory in that tie would set up a Playoff against the loser of Kairat (Kazakhstan) and Alashkert (Armenia) who will contest the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, with a place in the inaugural Europa Conference League group stages at stake.
Healy’s Blues have come close to becoming the first Irish League side to compete in the group stages of a major European competition in 2019 when they agonisingly lost on away goals to Qarabağ of Azerbaijan in the Europa League playoff.
Elsewhere, Larne will seek to keep up their unbeaten run in the maiden European campaign having already progressed past Bala Town of Wales and AGF Aarhus of Denmark in recent weeks.
They travel to Portugal for another tough task against Paços de Ferreira this week before the return leg at Inver Park next Thursday.
The incentive for Tiernan Lynch’s side will be a glamour playoff tie against English giants Tottenham Hotspur should they reach the playoff stage.
Third qualifying round – first leg
Tuesday 3 August - Linfield v Fola Esch (kick-off: 7.45pm)
Thursday 5 August – Paços de Ferreira v Larne (kick-off: 7.30pm)
Third qualifying round – second leg
Thursday 12 August - Fola Esch v Linfield (kick-off: 6.30pm)
Thursday 12 August – Larne v Paços de Ferreira (kick-off: 7.30pm)
Playoff round – draw
Linfield or Fola Esch v Kairat or Alashkert
Larne or Paços de Ferreira v Tottenham Hotspur