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Stephen Glass confident Aberdeen will rise to occasion at a full Tynecastle

Aberdeen v BK Hacken – UEFA Europa Conference League – Second Qualifying Round – First Leg – Pittodrie Stadium
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass feels the prospect of visiting a full Tynecastle to face Hearts will ensure his players are not even thinking about their massive European tie.

The Dons gave themselves a chance of reaching the Europa Conference League group stage next Thursday by restricting Qarabag to a 1-0 first-leg lead in Azerbaijan.

Next week’s second leg is the Dons’ biggest European game since they hosted Bayern Munich in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup in 2008.

But Glass and his side are first looking to continue their winning start in the cinch Premiership when they take on another team sitting on six points after two games.

Tynecastle will be fully reopened in time for the occasion and Glass expects his players to rise to revel in the atmosphere.

When asked about ensuring the focus is on Hearts and not their European adventure, Glass said: “I don’t even need to speak to the players about that because they have been fantastic, very professional.

“We know we are going to play a Hearts team that have won a couple of games already and are sitting at the top of the table like ourselves and another team (Hibernian). So it’s a big game and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.

“I think we have sold out our allocation of tickets so we know there’s a great crowd going to be there and the Hearts contingent will be there in full voice as well, I’m sure. It adds up to a great occasion and big players rise to the occasion in these sort of games.

“Any time you go and play in a full stadium it’s a motivating factor, and any time you go and play Hearts, there’s a noisy crowd there when it’s full.

“I have been fortunate to play for Aberdeen and Hibs there so always big games and great atmospheres, and I don’t expect anything different. And I know that players react to it.

“Any lingering tiredness from journeys and all that is forgotten when the referee blows his whistle. I think it will be a really good game.”

Glass recalled his own experiences of playing at Tynecastle.

“It brought out the best and the worst at times, we had good and bad,” the former Dunfermline player said. “But you were always looking forward to the game, it was always a great atmosphere and always enjoyable to play in.

“The one thing I would say is you were always motivated to go there because of what the atmosphere was going to be.

“The reason you are a footballer is to play in atmospheres like that and our players are going to have that opportunity for three games in a row.

“They have got Sunday, Thursday, Sunday that we know are going be big atmospheres, big occasions, and I think we will see a good response from the players.”

Glass came under scrutiny for making seven changes ahead of last weekend’s Premier Sports Cup defeat by Raith Rovers, although his side were ahead and in control at half-time.

When asked about his squad rotation, the Dons boss said: “We will do what we have always done, pick a team to try and win the game on Sunday. We will see how everybody is and we will pick a team capable of going to win at Tynecastle on Sunday.”