The Europa League is calling for Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna

Aberdeen defender Scott Mckenna.
Aberdeen defender Scott Mckenna.

Scott McKenna is targeting a run to the Europa League group stages ahead of Aberdeen’s entry into the competition.

The draw for the first qualifying round is made today and the Dons will enter, alongside fellow Scottish clubs Rangers and Kilmarnock.

Since their re-emergence in European competition in 2014, Aberdeen have yet to make it to the group stages.

Their best has been the third qualifying round, while last year they were drawn against Burnley in the first round and went out 4-2 on aggregate.

McKenna said: “European football is a massive attraction to people coming to Aberdeen.

“Last year we got a very tough draw against Burnley but I felt we held our own in both legs.

“We lost in extra-time but I don’t think we did ourselves any harm.

“Hopefully we can go on a wee run this year, get through a few rounds and into those group stages.

“I don’t know what people’s thoughts of Scottish football are down south but I think the Burnley game showed it was much better than many of them expected.

“We performed really well and Rangers and Celtic also did really well in Europe.

“I wouldn’t have classed it as a nightmare draw.

“It was a difficult one but we went in believing we could win.

“They had done a week to 10 days less pre-season than us so we felt we would have a real fitness going into it.

“Conceding that late goal, however, probably, left us up against it.”

McKenna’s appearances against Burnley a year ago were his first in European competition.

Manager Derek McInnes had managed to bring in Tommie Hoban, Tomas Cerny and Lewis Ferguson prior to the competition starting.

This year he has managed to recruit Curtis Main, Ryan Hedges and Ash Taylor, with more than a fortnight still to go before the first game.

Scotland defender McKenna feels the Dons are in a better place to deal with the Europa League this time around.

He added: “There are a lot of players who have been here for two or three seasons and played a lot of European football.

“I have only played in the two games and I am relatively inexperienced but playing a big team like Burnley definitely will give us confidence going into this year’s draw.

“The signings have come a bit earlier this summer.

“The manager has been very pro-active. Big Ash is coming back and he was a great player for us first time around and will bring a real presence.”

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