Aberdeen: Derek McInnes says Europa League group stage 'achievable'

Derek McInnes and Joe Lewis
Derek McInnes and new club captain Joe Lewis prepare for the game against RoPS
Europa League: Aberdeen v RoPS
Venue: Pittodrie Date: Thursday, 11 July Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Reaching the group stages of the Europa League is "achievable" for Aberdeen despite having to negotiate four rounds to do so, says manager Derek McInnes.

The Pittodrie side face RoPS of Finland in the first qualifying round, with the first leg at home on Thursday.

Luxembourg's Fola Esch or Georgia's Chikhura Sachkhere await in the next round, with more monied sides entering in the two stages that follow.

"It's far more difficult now for us or any Scottish team," McInnes said.

"I think it's weighted against teams like ourselves - it's not not achievable, but we need to make sure we do all we can to get into group stages."

Aberdeen have qualified for the Europa League in each of the past five seasons but have not reached the group stage on any occasion.

McInnes admits qualifying would have a financial impact on the club as they prepare to relocate to a new stadium.

"It would help, for us, if we could go and earn £2-£3m," he said. "Money's tight. We're building the stadium, but we've put together a squad this season without spending a penny on transfer fees.

"Any additional money can make us stronger as a club on and off the pitch."

Goalkeeper Joe Lewis will lead Aberdeen out as captain on Thursday after being announced as the successor to Graeme Shinnie, who departed for Derby County during the summer.

The 31-year-old has been with the club since 2016 and says it is a "great honour" to be named captain.

"I'm really proud, it's a great honour to be captain of a club like Aberdeen with great history and hopefully I can be a captain that helps create history for ourselves," said the Englishman.

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