Hughes happy with Falkirk's Dutch experience

FALKIRK'S pre-season tour of the Netherlands ended with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat at the hands of Dutch Premier League side SC Heerenveen but, despite the result, Bairns manager John Hughes was delighted with every aspect of the trip and is now looking ahead to next Saturday's opening league fixture at home to Rangers.

"It's been a great experience coming over here once again," said Yogi. "The facilities are first class and we had some worthwhile training sessions as well as some very tough, competitive games.

"The players are getting to know each other well and it's been a great bonding exercise. There have been one or two niggling injury problems but, overall, I feel the pre-season programme has been excellent and we can now focus our minds on the Rangers game next weekend."

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After losing 1-0 to SC Cambuur earlier in the week, followed by a 2-0 win over BV Veendor on Friday, Hughes was aware that the game against Heerenveen would be a big test for his new-look side. An unfortunate own goal by new signing Jackie McNamara gave the Dutch side an early lead and, although Hughes' men did create chances, Paulo Henrique's strike just after the interval put the game beyond their reach and a late double from Donovan Deekman resulted in a margin of victory which probably flattered the home side.

"They were a better team than us, it's as simple as that," reflected Hughes. "They have better players and don't forget they are one of the best teams in Holland, right up there with Ajax and PSV. They gave us a bit of a runaround at times but they've given our young players something to aspire to and they'll learn from this experience. The scoreline was disappointing but it doesn't detract from what we took from the game."

Hughes is still hopeful of signing Amsterdam-based Moroccan international goalkeeper Khalid Sinouh as back up to Robert Olejnik and he remains interested in securing the services of former Aberdeen frontman Steve Lovell.