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KEEGAN TREATS TNS WITH RESPECT
AS far as Kevin Keegan is concerned instead of TNS read Madrid or Milan.
The Manchester City chief insists that he and his players could not have prepared for the club's European return more thoroughly had they been involved in a Champions League final.
Twenty-four years of continental exile will be ended for the Blues at 7.45pm on Thursday when TNS visit the City of Manchester Stadium.
And it doesn't matter that Kevin Keegan's side are red-hot favourites to chalk up a club record Euro success - they have twice scored five in a match against SK Lierse and FC Schalke on the way to winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1970 - the manager is taking nothing for granted.
"I am really looking forward to it and more importantly the fans are," he declared.
"I would rather have qualified for Europe the conventional way by winning a cup or finishing in the top six of the league, but for us it could be a case in the back door and out of the front.
"My aim to is get through the first couple of rounds and still be in the competition when the teams who get knocked out of the Champions League come into the reckoning.
"We have approached this game very professionally and prepared properly. We have had TNS watched four times and Arthur Cox and myself travelled to watch them play an Everton Xl only last Friday.
"We have left no stone unturned. It is quite easy to say they are a small club, that they don't play in a strong league and all those kind of things, but when you actually see them, they are well organised, they know what they are trying to do and we have to treat them with total respect and that is what we have done.
"Our task is to go out and achieve a healthy first leg lead if we can, but that might not be as easy a people think.
"If we fall short it will be a disaster for us in playing terms but it will not be through lack of preparation or professionalism."
The Blues will be without midfielder Antoine Sibierski, who was not signed in time to be registered for the Uefa Cup, but otherwise Keegan has a full strength squad from which to choose.
"It is a bit of blow because it would have been nice to have a look at him but he has only been here 10 days or so and there is plenty of time," said the manager. "He has settled in really well."
The last time the Blues played in Europe was the Uefa Cup of 1978-79 when they defeated FC Twente Enschede, Standard Liege, and AC Milan before going out to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Keegan must decide whether to select Eyal Berkovic, who was outstanding in the weekend's friendly against Barcelona but remains on the transfer-list.

Man City (from): Seaman, Nash, Ellegaard, Sun, Distin, Sommeil, Tarnat, Dunne, Bischoff, Tiatto, Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Horlock, Berkovic, Barton, Anelka, Wanchope, Fowler, Macken.
TNS (from): Doherty, Williams, Brabin, King, Toner, Davies, Bridgewater, Ward, Ruscoe, Aggrey, Naylor, Leah, Perry, Wood, Taylor, Stacey, Beck.

13 August 2021