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Wednesday 18 July 2018

Big Irish interest in Burnley-Aberdeen clash

(l-r) Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward
(l-r) Burnley’s Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward

Burnley have been handed a Europa League tie against their Scottish counterparts Aberdeen in a clash that has more than a hint of green to it.

The Clarets, who finished seventh in last season's Premier League, were paired with the Scottish Premiership runners-up in yesterday's draw for the Europa League second qualifying round in Nyon.

Burnley's Irish contingent of Jeff Hendrick, Jon Walters, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady and Kevin Long will face a Dons side containing fellow countrymen Adam Rooney, Anthony O'Connor, Stephen Gleeson and Chris Forrester.

Sean Dyche's men will travel to Pittodrie on Thursday, July 26, with the Dons, who famously won the European Cup Winners' Cup under Alex Ferguson in 1983, heading south of the border a week later.

Dyche said: "Everyone knows it could have been anything, looking at the draw with the amount of different teams from different countries involved, and lo and behold we get someone just up the road. But we've worked hard to get here and we'll look forward to the challenge it brings.

Focus

"We know we won't be travelling far, so it won't be too unfamiliar, and it brings focus to the end part of the pre-season now that we know who we've got and we can prepare for what should be a competitive cup tie alongside our planning for the Premier League."

It will be Burnley's first taste of European action since they went out of the Fairs Cup to Eintracht Frankfurt at the quarter-final stage in April 1967.

Aberdeen, who are managed by Derek McInnes, have reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League for the last four seasons.

League rivals Rangers, who finished third behind the Dons and 12 points adrift of champions Celtic, will go head-to-head with either Moldovan side Petrocub or Osijek of Croatia should they get past Macedonian minnows FK Shkupi in the first qualifying round next month.

Champions League winner Steven Gerrard will launch his reign in earnest when Shkupi head for Ibrox on July 12 and then take his side to Skopje for the return on July 19.

Hibernian were paired with NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands in the first qualifying round, and will meet Greek outfit Asteras Tripolis if they progress.

Coleraine would book a showdown with Sparta Prague with a win over Serbian side Spartak Subotica, while either Glenavon or Molde will land Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus or Albanian club Laci.

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