Europa League: St Johnstone to face FC Alashkert

St Johnstone were knocked out by Spartak Trnava in last year's competition. Picture: Getty

St Johnstone were knocked out by Spartak Trnava in last year's competition. Picture: Getty

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ST JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright has called for the early Europa League qualifiers to be regionalised after being handed a 6,000-mile round trip to Armenia.

Saints begin the first qualifying round against Alashkert in Armenian capital Yerevan on 2 July with the return leg a week later, while the winners face Red Star Belgrade or Kazakhstani side Kairat Almaty.

Armenia shares a border with Iran and Wright will now have to deal with a major journey to begin next season just over a month after the last campaign ended.

Wright, who has taken his players to Northern Ireland to prepare, said: “The draw is what it is, we’ve got to deal with it and we will deal with it.

“We feel it would be common sense for it to be regionalised. We were hoping it was going to be regionalised but it’s not so we will be making the 6,000-mile round trip to play them.

“But I’m happy the second leg will be in Perth, and that’s a really big positive for us. We’re both in the same boat with regards to preparation, so we’ll do our best to get DVDs of them playing to know what we’re up against.”

West Ham United, meanwhile, will head to Andorra for their Europa League first qualifying round tie against Lusitans.

It will be the first competitive match for new manager Slaven Bilic who earlier this month was appointed as replacement for Sam Allardyce. West Ham – granted a European place via the Uefa Fair Play table – are provisionally scheduled to be away in the first leg.

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