The New Saints boss Scott Ruscoe is predicting tomorrow's Europa League clash at Park Hall with Slovakian side MSK Zilina to be a cagey affair.

The Saints will host the Slovaks in a one-legged tie, because of the Covid-19-enforced changes to the format of European football's second competition.

Ruscoe says he has scouted his opposition to the best of available options, and he expects them to be cautious but with potential changes in their gameplan once they have found their feet.

"I think they might sit back, see how we are and then change their plan accordingly," said the TNS boss.

"They don't press the opposition high up a lot but they might do that against us because they might think that we're lower than them.

"I am predicting a cautious approach in the first 15 to 20 minutes.

"In terms of scouting them, the only thing I could have done is go over there but in these times of uncertainty, that's difficult to do.

"I've seen all the games they've played and I will be getting a video of the game they played on Saturday where they lost 2-1.

"That's nearly as good as seeing them though you do like to go to their ground and get a feel for it but because we're playing at home, my job is making sure all the players know their formation and how we go about doing the business.

"The change in the format may change how we go about it a little bit, but we're at home and we're both fit and strong.

"We've got to take the opposition as we see them, respect them as they've been in Europe the last few years but having said that, they finished 14 points behind their league leaders Bratislava.

"There's a big gap there and they've lost 13 players who wouldn't take a pay cut, so they got rid of them.

"They're currently left with a young squad but it's a young hungry side that have to prove something.

"Yes it's a bit of the unknown but by our own work, we know the starting the line-up we'll come up against."

TNS's pre-season work has been all designed to make sure Ruscoe's squad is fully prepared for their European adventure.

The ex-TNS player oversaw a mini-unbeaten tri[p to Merseyside recently with a victory at League Two Tranmere Rovers and a draw with Premier League champions Liverpool's under-23s.

And Ruscoe admits he has one selection dilemma to solve against an otherwise settled team, and feels pre-season has been positive for the Saints.

"It's really good – we couldn't expect to be in a better place really," he said.

"Fitness wise and getting the squad together with no real injury headaches, that's always your first hurdle to overcome and given the way we've played over the last three weeks, it's encouraging.

"There's been signs of good fitness levels and good play, and now we have a good understanding of what's need for Thursday.

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"I near enough know and decided on where I'm going to go.

"Maybe one place is going to cause me a headache, more than usual, but we've just signed three players so that's going to happen.

"Going into this, we feel good. We beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0 and we should have beaten Liverpool's under-23s too, but I made changes.

"I could have given some people 90 minutes bnut i wanted some people to get an hour in.

"Even at the end we had three or four chances and we could have wont he game.

"That shows our progress as we played them a few years ago and hardly had a shot at goal.

"This time we were better prepared, further advanced in our fitness and our shape and that's one thing I'm really pleased with."