Evening Express

Burnley have upset the odds in England and we can do the same against them says keeper Lewis

Joe Lewis in action for Aberdeen

Joe Lewis says the way Burnley have punched above their weight in the English Premier League gives the Dons inspiration to dump them out of the Europa League.

Aberdeen take on the Clarets in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round at Pittodrie tomorrow night.

Sean Dyche’s team had a remarkable season last term and claimed seventh in the Premier League to qualify for Continental competition for the first time in 52 years.

To achieve that the Turf Moor side finished above many teams with more resources and bigger budgets.

The Dons have achieved similar success in Scotland, finishing above Rangers in the Premiership for the past two seasons despite having a smaller budget.

The Reds will be underdogs against Burnley, but having seen the way the Clarets have upset the odds in England, Lewis says Aberdeen can take inspiration from it as they look to pull off a shock and knock them out of Europe.

The goalkeeper, 30, said: “Sean Dyche has done a great job, they have probably overachieved in terms of the size of the club.

“But not in terms of the players and the management they’ve got – it would be disrespectful to say that because of the people at the club.

“But for the size of the club to qualify for Europe in the Premier League is a great achievement.

“It’s a long time since they’ve been in Europe, 52 years, so it shows what a great job the players and the management have done.

“We’re under no illusions as to how tough it will be but we’re still confident we can progress.

“We can use them as inspiration. They are a professional outfit and they won’t be taking us lightly.

“It’s something we as a club need to try to do, try to compete and better teams that have bigger budgets than us.

“We’ve done that and Burnley have done that and they’ve had a lot of coverage about what they’ve done.”

He added: “It’s difficult to compare them to teams in Scotland because Celtic and Rangers have huge budgets as well.

“Celtic have won the league comfortably but we have competed. And we’ve beaten Rangers in the last couple of seasons and they have a bigger budget than us.

“I think Sean Dyche and the Burnley team have proven it’s not all about the size of the budget it’s about the players and hopefully we can show that ourselves.

“We have a lot of belief in the team that we can do that.

“The quality in the dressing room is enough that we’re confident we can get through the tie.”

It is often said the game in Scotland is not rated highly by football observers in England and many are viewing this tie as a chance for Aberdeen to show Scottish football is better than some might think.

Lewis, a former England squad keeper, had spent his whole career down south before joining the Reds two years ago.

The former Peterborough, Cardiff, Blackpool and Fulham custodian has been on both sides of the divide.

He believes it is hard to compare Scotland and England but he does think the tie gives the Dons a great opportunity to show how good they are and how good the Scottish Premiership is.

Lewis said: “Before I came up here I didn’t follow a great deal of Scottish football.

“But now having seen both sides of it I can see that they are very different.

“The Championship in England is a very tough league and the Premier League is another kettle of fish.

“It’s hard to compare the two because there are different obstacles and different mentalities required in the different leagues.

“Down there sometimes you can go away to small grounds and there aren’t many fans and it’s as much a mental test as anything, can you deal with it?

“Then here when you play the likes of Rangers, Celtic, Hibs and Hearts it’s a different situation.

“It’s big crowds and can you produce in the high pressure situations? It’s difficult to compare and say what people think of the standard here.”

He added: “But I have enjoyed playing up here immensely and this tie is a good chance to test ourselves against Burnley, showcase our skills and show what we’re about.

“We have finished second in our league for the last four seasons.

“There will be plenty of eyes watching the games and looking at exactly how good we are and how good Scottish football is.

“Hopefully we can prove ourselves and show them what we are all about.”

So far this summer Dons boss Derek McInnes has signed midfielders Chris Forrester, Stephen Gleeson and Lewis Ferguson, as well as Dominic Ball, who can play in defence or midfield.

Tommie Hoban was brought in on a season-long loan this morning, while Lewis now has senior back-up – with Tomas Cerny brought in on a one-year deal.

Lewis believes the squad is shaping up nicely ahead of taking on Burnley.

He said: “I’m sure the manager is still looking to bring players in. But training has been of a high quality. We’ve got a very strong team and hopefully we can build on that.

“It’s shaping up well and we’re enjoying ourselves.”