Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass gives Ryan Hedges update, responds to Breidablik coach and savours return of big European nights to Pittodrie

Stephen Glass was a 17-year-old apprentice deployed as a ball boy when he got his first taste of Pittodrie packed to the rafters on a European night.

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass oversees training ahead of the second leg of the Europa Conference League qualifier against Breidablik at Pittodrie. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

A crowd of 21,655 saw Lee Richardson put Aberdeen ahead in a pulsating Cup-Winners Cup tie against Torino in November 1993, only to eventually lose 2-1 to the Italian side and miss out on a quarter-final showdown with eventual winners Arsenal.

It won’t be quite such a rarefied occasion on Thursday night as the Dons face Icelandic outfit Breidablik in the second leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie.

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But the prospect of Pittodrie being close to its current capacity of around 18,000 gives Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass the same sense of excitement he savoured as a teenager.

Welsh midfielder Ryan Hedges is the subject of interest from several clubs but Aberdeen want to tie him down on a new contract. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

“There’s a video which shows a kid sitting on the steps behind the goal when Lee Richardson scores against Torino and that’s me,” he says with a grin.

“That night was unbelievable with the crowd and the noise. I was a young professional at the time and they used us as ball boys. Was I good at it? The best – I could kill time at the right time!

“I did score a goal against Barry Town in a Uefa Cup tie three years later after I’d broken into the first team but that game against Torino was probably the closest I got to a full scale big European night here.

“We’ve already sold over 13,000 for Breidablik and I’d imagine as it ramps up and people decide during the day there’s a game on, there will be a big number inside the ground.

“It’s something I’m really looking forward to. One of the reasons I came back was to be involved in front of big crowds, especially on European nights.”

Aberdeen are in pole position to reach the play-off round after their 3-2 first leg win in Iceland last week, although their performance did not impress Breidablik coach Oskar Thorvaldsson, who was disparaging about the style of play deployed by Glass.

“I don’t know what his angle is,” said the Dons boss. “There aren’t many managers who come out and criticise opposition teams. It is interesting that he did that but it is his prerogative and we will just look after ourselves, like we always do.

“People might try to say things to rile you, to annoy you, to get you into a war of words. But we’re Aberdeen and we think we’ve got a great chance to go and make progress in this tournament.

“That’s the aim – whether their manager thinks we’re the best team on the planet or the worst team on the planet. It doesn’t affect us.”

Glass says he is ‘unaware’ of any fresh bids for midfielder Ryan Hedges or whether progress has been made in talks over a new contract for the 26-year-old Welshman after Aberdeen rejected an offer of £500,000 for him from an unnamed English club this week.

“Ryan is so focused on getting results at the minute and it’s important that continues,” said Glass. “Steven Gunn (director of football) and Dave Cormack (chairman) will deal with the contract but it’s something we’d like to do. We want to keep our best players and hopefully they choose to stay.”

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