Michael Newberry is bracing himself for a “wild” atmosphere as Linfield bid to finish the job off against FK Borac Banja Luka in Bosnia on Thursday evening (7pm).
The Blues are big favourites to progress to the next round of the Europa Conference League after romping to a 4-0 win in last week’s first leg at Windsor Park.
But Newberry, who scored the opener in Belfast, insists the second qualifying round tie is far from over and fully expects a partisan welcome from the Banja Luka Ultras.
“Borac will have their fans behind them over there and they’re a wild bunch from some of the clips I’ve seen of them online,” he said.
“The pitch and weather will also probably favour them in the return leg, so we know we’ll need to be fully on our game to progress.
“Obviously, having a four goal lead is a good place to be and leading 4-0 is better than trailing 4-0, but football is a funny game and anything can happen.
“The first thing the manager said to us after the first leg was ‘it’s not over’. We know we’ll need to be 100 percent on our game if we want to make the next round.”
Remarkably, Newberry’s close range opener in last week’s thumping first leg win over FK Borac in Belfast was only his second goal in club football.
The 23-year-old’s first came in a 7-0 hammering of Carrick Rangers in the Danske Bank Premiership at Windsor Park four months ago.
“I haven’t scored many in my career – just two and both have been with Linfield,” said Newberry, who joined the Blues from Icelandic club Vikingur Olafsvik in January.
“You probably saw it in my celebration. I was sprinting all over the shop and it was just raw emotion coming out. I really need to work on a celebration in case I score again!
“I was pleased to see it go in and I think that early goal helped settle us. As a defender it was also really pleasing to keep a clean sheet in a European tie.
“Borac had scored a few goals against Cluj in the Champions League earlier in the month, but we defended really well as a team and it all came together.
“We scored some great goals, it was a great team performance and the most pleasing thing was seeing our game plan really come together on the night.
“It was also our first win in Europe this summer, so it was an important marker to lay down and something to build on in the return leg.”
If Linfield progress, they will face either Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus or Luxembourg’s Fola Esch in the next round.