Striker Deek aiming to bag the goals that will give Hibs a dream draw

DEREK RIORDAN admitted today that he's desperate to make his mark for Hibs in the Europa League this season - and wipe out the memory of the last time he played on the big stage for the Easter Road club. The player's last involvement in Europe came almost three years ago when he was introduced as an extra-time substitute for Celtic against Spartak Moscow at Parkhead.

But his last outing for Hibs in European competition was a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk back in 2005 in a UEFA Cup qualifier.

Riordan scored the only Hibs goal in the away leg against the Ukrainians but is hoping his side can give a better account of themselves this time around. He said: "I am looking forward to the European games, the last time that I played in Europe with Hibs was the game against Dnipro a few years ago and it didn't turn out to be the best of games for us.

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"I have played in Europe since then, I played with Celtic against Spartak Moscow but I came on as a substitute late in the game, so I can't wait for the Europa League games to come round this time.

"Everyone here is really looking forward to it and hoping that we get a good draw — and hopefully to a decent country too.

"All of the teams who are in the competition at this stage will be decent sides, you don't get through the first few rounds or into the draw for this stage if you're not a good side."

Hibs go into the UEFA competition at the Third Qualifying Round stage and the draw for their games — which will be played on 29 July and 5 August — takes place this Friday.

While Riordan is keen simply for his side to make a good impression, he admits that he would love to make it through to the next round and the chance to come up against boyhood heroes Liverpool.

"As long as we can get into the group stages, I think that would be tremendous for Hibs and I am sure that it would be good for the fans too, especially if it meant travelling away to some of the bigger clubs in the competition.

"I would love to play against Liverpool, that is my English team and it would be brilliant to come up against them at some stage.

"We have got to get through our opening game first, though, and we know that will be difficult no matter who we end up playing."

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The redevelopment of Easter Road's new East Stand is almost complete and it is expected that the completed 20,250-capacity ground will be ready in time for the home leg of their first European match.

Manager John Hughes has already said that the work carried out will give his side a stadium and a pitch second to none in Scotland and it is hoped the new stand will create a 'wall of sound' as the players emerge from the tunnel opposite.

Riordan is also excited by the prospect of playing in the new stadium, be it in Europe or on a domestic front, adding: "I drove past the stadium the other day and it looks quite good already.

"If we can fill it, I think there would be a brilliant atmosphere in there, especially the games in Europe or against the likes of Hearts or the Old Firm.

"We've just got to put everything we have into making this a good season and making sure that the fans are coming along to see us in their numbers every week."

Riordan admitted he was delighted to finally get a goal in the friendly match against Dunfermline on Saturday, having already hit the woodwork twice at East End Park.

Liam Miller nodded home Hibs' second from the rebound on the first of those occasions to set Hughes' side on their way and Riordan conceded that a victory and a goal to his name is a great confidence booster, even at this stage in their pre-season preparations.

The striker was the only one of the 11 players who started the match to actually finish, manager Hughes opting to bring on ten substitutes and he said: "I think I was the only one who played the 90 minutes against Dunfermline but it's good for getting your match fitness back.

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"It was a good victory for us, we don't read too much into that but it's always good for your confidence levels at this time of the year. Our pre- season training has been good, although I think that everyone agrees it has been harder so far than last year. But you get the benefits from that and hopefully it will stand us in good stead for the season ahead.

"The manager has been doing things a bit differently this year, there's a bit of variety to the things that we're doing, which has been good.

"We have got a lot more games in our pre-season schedule this time around so that automatically means that you're going to get your match fitness and sharpness back that bit quicker, which is obviously better."

Riordan was unfortunate not to get his name on the scoresheet earlier but his goal eventually came in the 53rd minute when he was played in by Anthony Stokes and wasted no time in slotting the ball low into the back of the net.

"I'm a striker and I want to score in every game that I play in, even the friendlies. I hit the bar for Liam's goal and then I hit it again before I scored with a tap-in!," he continued.

"I'm happy with that, though, I don't mind how they go in, just as long as they do and the team wins.

"These things all give you confidence because you can easily go through a drought and that can knock you down a bit so if you can get a few in the first couple of games that is great from a striker's perspective."

Edwin de Graaf, Michael Hart and David Stephens all made their bow in a Hibs shirt, on this occasion the new mint strip, while goalkeeper Mark Brown also made his first appearance for the Easter Road side, having been ruled out since arriving at the club in January and suffering a fracture to a bone in his arm within a matter of weeks.

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While Hughes will take the same squad to Palmerston for the friendly against Queen of the South tonight, he has hinted that Riordan may not play the 90 minutes and Colin Nish will instead be given the full game as the Hibs manager bids to bring all of his players up to full match fitness after their summer break. But, with competition for places increasing with each new face that arrives, Riordan revealed that all of the players at the club are desperate to be involved in every single game that comes around.

He said: "I must be getting old because I felt my groin a bit in the second half and in the first half when I took a free-kick I felt my ankle, but I think that's all part of the fitness work. You do a lot of running at this stage and I think it catches up on you eventually but I played on and it was okay.

"You tend to be able to run these wee niggles off and, although I have got a bit of a bruised ankle, I'll be okay for tonight and hoping to play if the manager picks me.

"If you get the chance to play in this team, you take it and try to keep your place in the team. There is a lot more competition at the club now, that's what the gaffer wants, and it is good for the players as well because it puts pressure on you and keeps you on your toes. I think that the gaffer might change things around a bit for Queen of the South but everyone will be hoping to be involved again. The more games we can play at this stage, the better, as far as I am concerned."

Riordan believes that competition for places can only benefit the team and reckons that the new boys showed enough at the weekend to suggest that they will be a big hit with the supporters. "Edwin did well against Dunfermline and I thought that he battled hard for the side, he's a big physical player and I think he will really add something.

"David as well, he came on and scored and he's got the potential to do really well for us, despite the fact that he's only 18. He is a big laddie and he's got great strength.

"Michael Hart came on in the second half as well and he just needs to get a few games under his belt because he missed quite a bit of last season.

"He's another good player and I'm sure we'll see that when he's settled in."...