Aberdeen gunning for Champions League chance - Niall McGinn

Niall McGinn has loved the experience of European football in the last two seasons. Picture: SNS
Niall McGinn has loved the experience of European football in the last two seasons. Picture: SNS
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Niall McGinn is already excited that European football will be returning to Pittodrie next season - but his focus is on ensuring it is Champions League action.

The draw between St Johnstone and Ross County on Wednesday night sealed Aberdeen’s third consecutive season on the European stage, but they could still enter Europe’s elite competition for the first time since 1985.

The Dons sit one point behind Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Celtic ahead of their trip to flu-hit Motherwell on Saturday.

And McGinn, who is leading the league assists chart with 11 to his name this season, is looking to test himself at a higher level yet again.

“I think over the last couple of years European football has been brilliant for the club,” the 28-year-old said.

“We’ve done well, but I think last year when we went out we reached a round further, and that’s what we want to do next year as well.

“It’s exciting times for the club, and it’s a great place to be playing our football, and long may that continue.

“It’s obviously a nice place to be in where we don’t know (which European competition Aberdeen will be playing in) yet. We’ll just keep pushing.”

McGinn has been named in Northern Ireland’s squad for their friendlies against Wales and Slovenia later this month, and could be in for a hectic summer as his country’s Euro 2016 campaign could clash with Aberdeen’s European qualifiers in July.

But representing his country is only encouraging McGinn to give his all in the final stages of this season.

“We’re just coming up to a crucial time, we’ve got two important games coming up now that gives the manager food for thought, to have a look at players who didn’t play as much in the campaign,” he said.

“I’m delighted to be a part of it, and be a part of that squad, and obviously the manager’s just signed his new deal as well, so everything’s very positive at the moment.”

Motherwell confirmed on Friday morning that they would not request a postponement of their game against Aberdeen, 24 hours after manager Mark McGhee claimed he might have no choice following an outbreak of a virus.

But McGinn dismissed suggestions that the former Dons boss was indulging in mind games.

“I think there’s genuinely a few illnesses in the squad, but I think us being us we’ll just keep working towards another very important game,” he said.

“We’re ticking the games off one by one, we’re in a good run of form at the moment.

“We just want to keep going, we’re eager to go again come Saturday. Motherwell’s been doing well as late. They’re happy to play football, they’re an attacking team.

“But we know we’re capable of that as well, so it’s all for being a good game come Saturday.”

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