CHRIS Budrys has been talking about the Wingmakers' upcoming Europa League ties with his local daily paper, the Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel.

THEIR team is made up of electricians, plumbers, factory workers and a teacher from Penkhull.

And next week Airbus UK Broughton and Thistley Hough High School PE teacher Chris Budrys will line-up in the Europa League.

The 28-year-old is the Welsh Premier League side's number nine and is set to feature in the two legs of the competition's first qualifying round.

Airbus qualified for the competition after finishing second in the league last season and have been drawn to play Norweigan side FK Haugesund at home and away.

And the Norwegian side – who are already midway through their domestic campaign – will be something of an unknown quantity.

"Nothing at all," Budrys said when asked how much he knew of the opposition.

"I have looked on the internet to see where they are in the league and what players they have got but that's it.

"It looks as though they have a few good players, a couple of Brazilians, but are not doing that well in their league.

"We've got a week to prepare and learn as much about what we are going to be up against."

Airbus, who are based in the Flintshire district of Broughton, which is a few miles from Chester, will play the first leg at home next Thursday before travelling to Norway for the return match a week later.

The club qualified for the Europa League for the first time in their history last season but were knocked out on away goals to Latvian champions FK Ventspils.

Budrys became the club's first scorer in the competition after netting in the 1-1 home leg, but a 0-0 draw on their travels ended hopes of going any further.

"It was an unbelievable experience," he said.

"The whole preparation for the game was just like being a professional.

"I had never experienced anything like it before so it was just amazing and the results we got were a great credit to the club and the players.

"I managed to get on the scoresheet and I think there was about 10 minutes left. We felt we were a bit unlucky not to win the game."

Budrys said the fact the Latvian team were halfway through their league season was testament to the effort put in by his team-mates who had limited time to prepare.

Airbus are hoping to bridge the fitness gap this time by returning to pre-season earlier and Budrys said they have not really stopped since finishing their league season.

But how does he balance life as a teacher and footballer?

"The school have been really supportive with my football and a lot of the kids are interested in how I am doing," he explained.

"With my work commitments I might not leave work until 5pm and then it is straight off to training, so it is tough."

Airbus finished 14 points behind league champions The New Saints, but it took a late run for them to make sure of the title.

Budrys, who joined from Northwich Victoria two seasons ago, has also had spells with Newcastle Town and Stafford Rangers.

He says players in the Welsh League could make an impact at non-league level in England because they are battle-hardened.

"It is more physical than English football," he added.

"The away games are hard because you are doing a lot of travelling. You have got to be up for those games just as much as the home ones, but the travelling takes a lot out of you.

"But it is a great incentive to have the chance to get in to Europe."

Airbus UK FC

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