Dundalk's Pat Hoban admits that his side have been let down by their defensive frailties since the return to action, but ahead of their crucial Champions League qualifier, he’s ready to defend from the front.

The Lilywhites take on Slovenian champions NK Celje in Hungary this evening, in a one-off Champions League first round qualifier.

The Louth side have been struggling for form since the return from lockdown and have yet to claim a win in the league.

Hoban admits that lapses of concentration in defence have been behind their lacklustre results of late, but he’s confident that his side can put that right this evening.

"I think defensively we haven’t been as strong as we normally are and we’re conceding goals when we’re in control of games," he told RTÉ. "When that happens and that bit of luck isn’t on your side, things go against you.

"It’s going to be very strange and we always get the places that are nice and hot for us, so we’ll have to make sure we have the factor 50 on us when we go out to play.

"We have to be on it and are defensively sound as well as attacking."

Hoban looks set to start up front as Dundalk’s lone striker in Budapest and he’s ready to be the first line of defence against the Slovenians.

"It’s the work you have to do for the team and it’s the shape you have to set for the team in terms of pressing," he said.

"It is that bit harder in the heat but it’s a one-off game and we’ll be ready for them. We want to make sure that we’re winning this game and make sure we have another two cracks at it."

Celje go into the game as favourites to progress to the next round, despite their lack of experience in Europe and Hoban believes that his side's previous exploits on the continent can give them the edge.

"They’re a very good side, they’re Slovenian champions and they didn’t get that for no reason.

"Our lads have had a great time in Europe, they’ve done really well and have a lot of experience in Europe.

"There’s a wealth of experience there, but on the day we have to make sure we’re on it as a team and make sure we put in a very good performance."

Watch live coverage of the Dundalk v NK Celje in the Champions League first-round qualifier on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player this Wednesday from 5:45pm.