The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
McInnes hopes Dons can draw on experience
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is confident the experience of playing in the Europa League last season will be invaluable for his squad as his players prepare for their latest campaign.
The Dons will learn their European fate today when the draw for the first and second qualifying rounds is made.
Having made it to the third qualifying round last season, despite a tough draw, hopes are high the Reds can progress further this year.
Aberdeen beat Daugava Riga, of Latvia, before upsetting Dutch side Groningen in the second round only to fall to Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad in the third qualifying round a year ago.
McInnes said: “I hope the experience of last year will help us. The intensity and pressure to be ready for every game is there but I enjoyed getting to know the opposition as quickly as we had to.
“We brought in more than 50,000 supporters for the three home games so we are well aware of the financial incentives of these games.
“The big game experience is what we want to get and enjoy and it is why the players worked so hard to get into Europe. That’s why it is never a chore to come back early, it’s a reward for doing well.
“There is a long challenge ahead of us this season, but the first challenge is to be fit and ready for the first European game.
“We’re all eagerly anticipating progress again.”
Should the Dons be drawn away in the first leg supporters will have less than two weeks to make arrangements to follow the team on its latest European adventure, which is why the Dons manager is hoping for an opponent close to home.
McInnes said: “It would be good to get somewhere the supporters can get to given the short time in arranging travel.”
Aberdeen begin their preparations for July 2 with a friendly at Brechin City on Wednesday before returning to Glebe Park to face fellow European qualifiers St Johnstone on Sunday.