THE NEW Saints’s experienced keeper Paul Harrison has admitted he still gets excited by the prospect of playing in the Champions League, but won’t lose sleep over it.
Saints will face FC Europa at Park Hall on Tuesday night in their Champions League First Qualifying Round first leg as interim boss Scott Ruscoe’s men hope to take a healthy lead to Portugal.
Harrison says their pre-season preparations have been business as usual following Craig Harrison’s departure but admitted he was delighted with the levels shown in the friendly with Scottish giants Rangers.
“The Champions League is always a special time of the year,” said the 32-year-old.
“I’m excited but I always sleep well before a game. I look forward to playing any matches, wherever they are and I always sleep well.
“I’m an old hand at this now. You don’t need to get up for a game like this as you know what it’s about and it’s nice for the new lads who have come in to experience it.
“Everyone is up for the game. It’s a great competition year in, year out and we’ve prepared well. We’ve had a few good friendlies, with the Rangers game being the highlight.
“I thought we handled ourselves well; we looked sharp going forward and I thought we were defensively outstanding in that game. Up to now, everything is looking good and hopefully things will take care of themselves tonight.”
Harrison insists he hasn’t seen any hangover from the Welsh Cup final defeat against Bala Town since TNS have been back in training, but felt last year’s world record run became a distraction.
And he’s happy to have had a break, albeit a short one, and feels the players are mentally rested following their exploits.
He added: “Last season was difficult with the world record and the cup defeat. I thought the record took a lot out of us – once we got there and then got beat, the season seemed to go away as we were so far ahead.
“It was difficult to stay competitive towards the end and the Bala game was the final straw.
“The summer has given the lads a mental break from the game, more than anything. That’s what you need to keep that consistency for six years is so difficult, so it was nice to get that time away and refresh yourself.”