Aberdeen defender Andy Considine insists his side will not take their eye off the ball by looking beyond Breidablik in their attempt to reach the group stages of the Conference League.
The Dons’ route to the groups has become clear with the winners of the third qualifying round tie facing either AEL Limassol of Cyprus or Qarabag FK of Azerbaijan in the play-off round.
Considine played in the group stages of the old UEFA Cup in 2007 under Jimmy Calderwood and has been part of every bid to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League since.
He would love to bring European football to Pittodrie for the rest of the year, but is refusing to look beyond the imminent threat facing his side in Iceland on Thursday.
He said: “There has been numerous times over the years I feel we’ve had a good chance of getting to the group stages, so I’m not going to say too much on that.
“I just want to take it game by game.
“We know what is coming on Thursday as they are a high pressing, high energy team and we want to go over there and hopefully bring something back to Pittodrie and deal with them there.
“There is nothing I want more than having the boys experience European football until Christmas. It would be brilliant for the players, fans and the city, but we won’t look too far just yet.”
Considine was 20 when the Dons last played group stage football, but he is firmly in the role of elder statesman in the Aberdeen team at the age of 34.
He insists, however, the emergence of young full-backs Calvin Ramsay and Jack Mackenzie to the first team, along with experienced youngsters Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie, is keeping the atmosphere vibrant and energised within the dressing room.
Influx of young talent has refreshed the first team
The defender said: “I’ve been around football for a wee while and it’s great for me to see. Calvin’s just turned 18. It’s great to see the hunger and desire these young lads have.
“You see a lot of young boys these days who get into youth teams and think they’ve made it.
“But the likes of Calvin, Jack Mackenzie and Dean Campbell, all these young boys who have come through show a real desire and hunger to do well and a consistency in training to keep improving. That’s showing and it’s great that the manager thinks they are ready.
“Having seen them a couple of times last year, at the start of this season, they are more than ready.”
On whether the influx of young talent has freshened up the squad, Considine added: “You need that in your team. You need to bring through young boys who have that energy as it spurs us all on.
“To have that mix of experience even with the likes of Lewis Ferguson, who has played a lot of games at 21, and add the youthful energy of Calvin and Jack, it’s a great mix in the squad at the moment.
“We haven’t brought in too many boys, so it hasn’t taken us long to gel. We’ve played pre-season and the early games together and we have a good mix together.”
New-look Dons gelling well
Considine is pleased to see the work being done on the training ground at Cormack Park is paying off in matches.
He said: “There are certain similarities with last season, but I’d say that we’ve found our own identity now with the new manager.
“We’ve worked on a lot of final phase movements with Allan (Russell) and the manager and they are starting to make our way into the team.
“You can see that now over the past couple of games and it’s been really encouraging.
“We’re looking a real threat in front of goal.
“I feel that Christian (Ramirez) and JET (Jay Emmanuel-Thomas) have brought us a different dimension. The hold-up play, as we know, with big JET – he’s a man mountain of a guy and it’s hard to get the ball off him. It’s great for us to get up the field.
“With Christian, I feel that we’ve sort of missed that number nine – a natural finisher in the box.
“Strikers need goals for confidence and he’s got a couple under his belt already.
“Along with that, we’ve got a couple of young full-backs who are willing to get up and down the line. I thought both of them were brilliant on Sunday.
“Calvin’s ball for Christian’s header just epitomised what he’s all about. I thought he was outstanding and his final ball is great.
“It’s encouraging. I know it’s early days, but I feel the squad is working hard on the training field and that’s showing in matches.”
Legendary goalkeeper next on Considine’s list
Considine’s durability has led to him inching ever closer to Bobby Clark’s 591 appearances for the Dons. Now just 29 appearances behind the legendary goalkeeper, who is rated third in the all-time list at Pittodrie, Considine hopes he can eclipse Clark this season.
He said: “I’d like to think so as long as I can keep injury free, play consistently enough to warrant a start every Saturday.
“I don’t miss a day of training, I keep myself as fit as possible and as long as I can put in good enough performances that the manager thinks I warrant a start, that’s good enough for me.”