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Barry Robson hopes qualified pilot Richard Jensen’s inside info can get Aberdeen off to flying start against HJK Helsinki

Finland international Jensen has been Robson's trusted wingman as the Dons prepare to host his former club HJK in their first Europa Conference League home group game.

Aberdeen defender Richard Jensen. Image: Shutterstock
Aberdeen defender Richard Jensen. Image: Shutterstock

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson hopes the lowdown from qualified pilot Richard Jensen can get the Dons off to a flying start at Pittodrie against HJK Helsinki in the Europa Conference League.

Finland international defender Jensen, who gained his pilot’s licence in the Netherlands, has been helping the Reds with their preparations for Thursday’s first Group G home game  against his former club HJK.

Robson is grateful for his wingman’s assistance as he looks to avoid a turbulent European homecoming against the Finnish champions tonight (8pm).

The Dons boss said: “He is a pilot and he has taken a bit of stick over that. He is a good player, though.

“Outside the first-team dressing room, there are individual reports on each player and what system they might play, along with their strengths and weaknesses.

“The players can come and have a look at what the players look at and then their strengths and weaknesses.

“Richard was outside there today speaking to a lot of the boys.

“I spoke to him about some of the players he knows and the Helsinki manager is also the assistant for Finland.

“He has probably got more information than we can get and he has been a good help.

Richard Jensen during Aberdeen training at Cormack Park. Image: SNS.

“Richard has played with a few of them (the Helsinki players), although he hasn’t played in Finland since he was 16.

“He is looking forward to it.”

Rubezic benefits from experienced team-mates like Jensen

Jensen’s assistance off the pitch has been useful in the build-up to the game, but it is his contribution on it which has pleased the Aberdeen manager most.

Robson believes the experience of Jensen and fellow defender Stefan Gartenmann has been vital in helping another new arrival, Slobodan Rubezic, settle at the club.

Rubezic received a boost on the eve of the HJK game when he was selected for the Montenegro national team for the first time.

The Dons manager is delighted for his player.

He said: “I am pleased for him. He is still a young player.

“You can tell he is still a bit excitable at times, but he is getting stronger and stronger.

Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic has been called up to the Montenegro squad. Image: SNS

“He is one we want to work with, but he has a real chance of growing into a top player.

“Richard and Stefan have been brilliant for him and made the team even better.

“Getting his international call-up should only give him confidence.

“He is really good and he wants to do so well. That is the good thing.

“He is a good player and there is loads left to work with.”

HJK Helsinki ‘need to know they are in a game’ – Robson

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson during his pre-HJK press conference at Pittodrie on Wednesday. Image: SNS.

The Dons have hit form ahead of their first home game in the Conference League after winning three domestic games in a row.

But Robson knows his side will have to be at their best against Toni Korkeakunnas’ side.

The Finnish champions are experienced European campaigners, however, the Reds boss is confident his side can cause them problems.

He said: “You don’t get into the Conference League unless you are a proper team.

“I’ve watched a lot of them the last few days and they are well structured, difficult to play against and good with the ball.

“It’s nothing we didn’t know about, but it’s going to be a tough game.

“They will be confident coming here, but we’re also confident as well. It will be a difficult game for us and for them.

“When people come up here, they need to know they are in a game, and we have done that in the last eight months.

“At this level, every game is so difficult and we know if we’re not at our best we can lose games.

“We’re at home with all our fans behind us and hopefully we can do the things we have worked on and do it right.

“If we can do that, we can give ourselves a chance of winning the game.”

Tributes to two former Dons before kick-off

Aberdeen fans will have the chance to pay tribute to former Dons Frank McDougall, who died on Sunday, and Jim Forrest, who died last week, with a minute’s applause before kick-off.

Striker McDougall’s time at Pittodrie was cut short due to injury, but his phenomenal goalscoring impact at the club has not been forgotten.

Robson said: “It’s not easy when you lose someone of that generation.

“He’s a player who played when I was growing up, and someone like Neil Simpson, who is still around the club, knew him well.

“He was a great servant for this club, it’s a sad day and I’m glad we’re doing something for him.”

Frank McDougall in his Aberdeen heydey. Image: Aberdeen Journals.