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Boss Barry Robson vows to deliver enough signings to ensure Aberdeen’s Euro bid does not damage Premiership campaign

As left-back James McGarry is confirmed as Aberdeen's ninth summer arrival, having penned a three-year deal from Central Coast Mariners, Robson insists more signings are imminent.

James McGarry in action for Central Coast Mariners. Image: Shutterstock.
James McGarry in action for Central Coast Mariners. Image: Shutterstock.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson is confident of delivering enough signings to ensure Euro group stage action does not damage the Premiership campaign.

The Dons will compete in the group stages of Europe for the first time since the Uefa Cup in 2007.

After a 16-year absence, Robson is under no illusions as to the enormity of a return to the groups for fans, the club and the city.

Robson accepts the demands of fighting on two fronts will stretch his squad and more signings are needed.

He aims to deliver before the transfer window closes on Friday, September 1.

New Zealand international left-back James McGarry is the Dons ninth signing of the transfer window, having penned a three-year contract.

McGarry signed from Australian A-League champions Central Coast Mariners for an undisclosed fee.

The 25-year-old is expected to arrive in the Granite City this weekend.

The move was held up because McGarry opted to remain in Australia as his wife was ready to give birth, but he became a father to a baby boy earlier this week.

Robson is working on further new additions – ideally in time to be eligible to play in the Europa League play-offs with the first leg on Thursday, August 24.

Hacken in pole position to face Dons

Swedish club BK Hacken edged closer to facing the Dons in the Europa League play-off round by beating FK Zalgiris, of Vilnius, 3-1 in the first-leg of their third qualifying round in Lithuania.

Victory in the play-offs for Aberdeen would secure qualification for the Europa League group stages.

Should the Dons lose the play-off tie, they still drop into the group stages of the Conference League.

Either way Aberdeen are guaranteed at least eight European matches.

Balancing Europe with league ‘bread and butter’

Robson said: “This club is built on European football.

“However, we have not been in the group stages since Jimmy Calderwood 16 years ago.

“We are now in a place where we have not been for a long time.

“Another thing that is very difficult is we will come up against teams with much bigger budgets.

“That is hard but it is exciting for the fans, the city and the club.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson during the 0-0 draw at Livingston. Image: Shutterstock.

“We need to perform as well as we can.

“But we also need to remember that the league is the bread and butter.

“And we will work accordingly to make sure we keep ourselves in the fight to stay up the league as high as we can as well.

“We need to get it right on rotation with players, but we also need to perform in both competitions.”

Uefa deadline for submitting squad

The Uefa deadline for submitting a 25-player squad for the play-off round is August 18 at 11pm.

However, a club can still register a maximum of two new eligible players after that deadline until 11pm on the day before the first leg (August 24).

A club’s association must confirm in writing the new player is eligible to play at domestic level at this time.

Liam Scales remains a transfer target

Boss Robson is stillkeen on securing Celtic defender Liam Scales, who has two years remaining  on his Parkhead contract.

Robson has held talks with Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers about a move for Scales after his successful loan spell at Pittodrie last season.

The 25-year-old was not named in Celtic’s match-day squad for their 4-2 win over Ross County in the Premiership opener last weekend.

Aberdeen are also closing in on midfielders to replace Ylber Ramadani, who was sold to Italian club Lecce for a fee understood to be £1.2 million plus add-ons.

Robson said: “We are going to strengthen and are looking at that.

“There is still three weeks to go in the window.

“There are players that we have identified that we would like to take in to give the players here a helping hand.”

Liam Scales celebrates making it 1-0 Aberdeen against Rangers. Image:  SNS.

Debut double for BK Hacken striker

The return leg between Hacken and Zalgiris will be played at Gothenburg’s Bravida Arena on Thursday.

New Hacken signing Srdjan Hrstic netted a double on his debut following his transfer from Serbian club FK Spartak Subotica earlier this month.

Mikkel Rygaard Jensen added a third in the 70th minute.

However, Zalgiris hit back in the 85th minute with a goal from Nassim Hnid.

Potential return to Gothenburg

It is fitting than on the 40th anniversary of the Gothenburg Greats the Dons appear set to return to the city of the club’s greatest triumph.

Aberdeen famously won the European Cup Winners’ Cup by beating Real Madrid 2-1 after extra-time in the final in Gothenburg in May, 1983.

The Dons recently defeated BK Hacken, having triumphed 5-3 on aggregate in the  Conference League second qualifying round in 2021.

Aberdeen, managed by Stephen Glass at the time, won 5-1 at Pittodrie before losing 2-0 in Sweden.

BK Hacken manager Per-Mathias Hogmo during a 2021 European qualifier at Pittodrie.
BK Hacken manager Per-Mathias Hogmo during a 2021 European qualifier at Pittodrie. Image: SNS.

The current BK Hacken side are an entirely different proposition to the one that was defeated by the Reds two years ago, though.

Since then the club have been revitalised under the management of former Norwegian national boss Per-Mathias Høgmo.

Hogmo led BK Hacken to the Swedish Allsvenskan title in 2022, the club’s first top-flight league triumph and the Swedish Cup earlier this year.

BK Hacken are 18 games into their league campaign and currently sit third in the table, four points behind leaders IF Elfsborg.

For now, though, Robson insists his focus is on facing defending Premiership champions Celtic at Pittodrie on Sunday.

Robson said: “We had people away doing match reports.

“My analysis department will have all that ready for when I need it.

“My focus is on Celtic which is a big enough challenge.”

BK Hacken’s Bravida Arena in Gothenburg. Image; Shutterstock.