Vinny Perth's return has helped steady the Dundalk ship as the Lilywhites prepare for a daunting trip to face Vitesse Arnhem on Thursday according to defender Darragh Leahy.

Perth returned to the club for a second spell in charge in mid-June after a tumultuous start to the season and in time for the start of the European qualification campaign.

Having overcome Wales' Newtown and Estonian side Levadia Tallinn in the opening rounds of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers, Dundalk face a tough assignment against Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse with the first leg in the Netherlands on Thursday.

But Leahy feels buoyed collectively and personally by the way Perth has returned Dundalk to an even keel over the last six weeks.

"Since Vinny came back our form has been a bit more steady and it's another opportunity to play against a top team in Europe and we're going to be really looking forward to it. Personally I had a tough time not getting much game-time (before Perth came back).

"I think I only played two games since before he came back and it was very tough, very frustrating," he said, adding, "I'm not going to lie, it was extremely tough - mentally more than anything it was hard".

Perth's impact has been positive according to Leahy

"But he came back and he's steadied the ship and we've got a bit of form and a bit of consistency and it's a lot more steady."

However, Leahy is under no illusion about the size of the task at hand against seasoned European opposition, albeit one still in pre-season.

"There's no doubt that they're a top side. They're from one of the top leagues in Europe," he said of a Vitesse side that finished in the top four in last season's Eredivisie.

"They're a top European team so it's going to be a very tough challenge."

With the away goal scrapped, the approach to European fixtures on the road differs slightly, the 23-year-old added.

"It's different now with the away goals gone. Obviously you go into every game hoping to win it but against a side like this, a draw isn't a bad result," he said.

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