NEIL LENNON is gearing up for the early-season challenge after this afternoon’s Europa League draw for the First and Second qualifying rounds.

Hibs will play NSÍ Runavík, of the Faroe Islands, in the opening stage with the winner facing home and away ties against Greek side Asteras Tripolis in the next round.

The Easter Road boss said: “It’s exciting for the players and the supporters – the draw makes it feel a bit more real and something to aim towards.

“When we knew we’d qualified, the pre-season schedule was confirmed with a view to us being ready for the 12th.

“Against Brondby a few years ago, it was my first game in charge and we hadn’t had much time to prepare, whereas with these matches the squad is more settled and we have the experience of those ties to call upon.

“We’ll be up against a side midway through their league season. They’ll obviously be well prepared, so it’s important we get our work in over the coming weeks to get the fitness levels up and try to get a bit of sharpness for the game.

“The pre-season matches with Linlithgow, Berwick and Blackburn have been designed to give everyone minutes and get us up to speed.”

Lenny added: “We can’t afford to be complacent.

“There are always surprises at this time of the season in Europe – lack of sharpness or focus, playing in tough conditions, or a lack of knowledge on the opposition.

“We need to concentrate on the first set of fixtures and get the job done before any thoughts of what comes after.

“The first leg is at home and, hopefully, we’ll see another good turn-out – our attendances last season were excellent and we need more of the same for the game against Runavík.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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