Evening Express

Aberdeen boss McInnes targets home clean sheet against Burnley – but says it’s not be all and end all

Derek McInnes

Fired up boss Derek McInnes has the belief the Dons can knock out Premier League Burnley but admits it will take two huge performances to overturn the odds in their Euro show-down.

Aberdeen host the Clarets in the Europa League second qualifying round first leg at a packed Pittodrie tonight.

The Turf Moor outfit are the bookmakers favourites to progress from the Battle of Britain to secure a clash against Istanbul Basaksehir in the next round.

However, McInnes is confident his Reds can rise to the occasion.

He said: “The target is to bring a strong performance tonight and ultimately get through the tie.

“We believe we can.

“But it is going to have to take a lot of things to go our way and two big performances from our team.

“We will certainly do all we can to do that.”

McInnes accepts a fundamental component of progressing in Europe is a clean sheet at home.

Aberdeen have conceded at Pittodrie in six of their last seven European ties.

He today challenged the Reds to achieve what English giants Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea failed to do last season – keep a clean sheet at home against Burnley.

He said: “It ( a clean sheet) is important, although it is not the be all and end all as we back ourselves to create chances and score.

“I always find in Europe that when we have kept a clean sheet at home we have always won our game.

“When we have went into the later rounds and been put out it is normally the goal we have lost at home that has inflicted the biggest pain and impacted on the outcome.”

McInnes expects a physical, British-style game against a side that finished seventh in the English top flight to secure a Euro slot.

He said: “Burnley are the type of team who really impose themselves on the opposition so it will be a tough game.

“They have good players and a great understanding of each others’ roles.

“Burnley have a good physicality and any team that can gain European qualification from the English Premier deserves the utmost respect.

“They are a good side and we have a tough game on our hands.

“But it is equally important Burnley see us exactly the same way and realise they have been in a game.”

McInnes bolstered his defence with the signing of Watford centre-back Tommie Hoban on a season-long loan before the UEFA deadline to register new signings at 11pm last night.

Former Partick Thistle keeper Tomas Cerny also joined yesterday on a season-long deal.

Despite the addition of Hoban, there could yet be a deal earned by on-loan Polish centre-back Krystian Nowak.

The 24-year-old ex-Hearts man will feature in Sunday’s friendly at Abroath.

McInnes said: “Krystian’s in an unfortunate situation where the game with Inverness was cancelled and he was supposed to start.

“He was supposed to play 45 minutes against Cove Rangers but the game was abandoned.

“We have not really had the opportunity to see him in action, although he got 20 minutes or so against West Brom.

“We have invited Kyrstian to stay with us this week and play in the game on Sunday.

“Then we will sit down and make a call on that after the game.”

The need for defensive cover increased with centre-back Mark Reynolds yesterday undergoing surgery on a knee injury sustained against Cove Rangers.

McInnes said: “Mark was in Glasgow yesterday getting an operation on his knee.

“We are fearing he may well be out for a considerable amount of time based on some of the evidence we have.

“It is disappointing for us and Mark.”

The Dons welcome back Niall McGinn (thigh strain) and Andy Considine (concussion) for tonight’s clash.

McInnes said: “Scott Wright missed training on Tuesday with a little knee complaint, but we are hoping he is going to be okay.”