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Stephen Glass hopes for ‘domino effect’ as Aberdeen target group stage

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

Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass is refusing to contemplate a first qualification for the group stage of a European tournament in 14 years ahead of Thursday night’s showdown with Breidablik.

The Dons take a 3-2 first-leg lead into their clash with the Icelandic side at Pittodrie in the third qualifying round for the Europa Conference League, with either Limassol or Qarabag awaiting the winners in the play-offs.

However, Glass will take nothing for granted against opponents who have already shown what a threat they could pose to his side’s hopes.

Asked about the prospect of reaching the group stage, he said: “It’s solely doing the job tomorrow night. It’s almost a domino effect: you look after your performance, you win games; you win games, you end up in the position you’d like to be.

“That’s the aim for us tomorrow night, get through this tie, produce a performance that rewards the fans for coming along, rewards the players for their work-rate and their effort and end up in the tie next week, knowing that we’ve got a game on Sunday as well.

“It’s almost a stand-alone game that we need to win. I feel like if we sit and try to get a draw, we could find ourselves in trouble.

“They’re technically a good team, so it’s important for us to dictate the game and use our qualities to go and win.”

Aberdeen, who dispensed with Swedish outfit Hacken in the previous round of the new competition, have been involved in qualification for the Europa League in each of the last seven seasons, but have not made it through since the 2007-08 campaign.

Goalkeeper Joe Lewis said: “Since I’ve been at the club, it’s been a personal target of mine, to try to achieve that. We’d do that as a team and we feel like we’ve got an excellent opportunity, the way that we’re playing at the start of the season.

“In previous years we’ve had some really difficult ties, and this season there are no easy games, but we feel like there’s a big opportunity, should we apply ourselves properly and be very professional about it, we’ve got an opportunity to get to the group stage.

“We need to make sure we work as hard as we can and don’t take anything for granted and continue the good form we’ve been on.”

Glass, who has no fresh injuries for the game, has insisted the Dons want to keep midfielder Ryan Hedges, who has been linked with Blackburn and Middlesbrough, amid reports they have rejected a bid from an English club.

He said: “We’re keen to keep our best players at the club, that’s the aim. We want him to stay, we want to make it an attractive place to be and we want him to be good enough that we want him to stay, and Ryan falls into that category.”