Date: 20th June 2016 at 11:26am
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The Hearts boss is also ‘excited’ by the prospect.

Robbie Neilson’s achievements with Hearts have not only taken us from the Scottish Championship (as runaway Champions of course a couple of years back) into the Premiership again but that first season back in the topflight brought European Football back to Tynecastle.

At least it means we’ve got Europa League qualifying to content with anyway having finished third last season.

It’ll be some challenge for Hearts with the early returning meaning we’ll face the prospect of having to come through four two-legged ties to make it into the competition proper.

Hearts will today find out who our first Europa League qualification opponents are with Neilson relishing this challenge, telling the Edinburgh News.

‘It`s exciting, something different for the players as well as the staff. We need to go and prepare for teams we don`t know. Generally in Scotland you play each other four, five or six times in a season. You know each other. In Europe, it will be a quick ten-day turnaround. You have to travel and prepare properly and it is all good experience.

Obviously making it into the group stages is the aim with him adding it’s a ‘tough ask’ for us to achieve this though.

‘We want to try and get into the group stages, as all teams do. It is very difficult for Scottish teams to get through. Ourselves and Aberdeen need to come through four rounds to get there and every one will be difficult. It is a tough ask but it`s one we want to try and get to.’

Not only do we have to come through so many matches it’s also the level of teams you compete against with the budgets they have as Neilson revealed a team in Bratislava he came across ‘a couple of weeks ago’ had a ‘£12million budget.’

Therefore there aren’t too many minnows in qualifying!

With the arrivals of Robbie Muirhead, Faycal Rherras and Conor Sammon (who have all arrived and been registered in time for involvement) he finished by saying these will help but the backing of the fans will also be important.

‘Potentially, we have a really good team here but we have to work hard. The signings have to be right, the players have to be right on the night and we need the backing of the fans to get as far as we can in Europe. We will take one game at a time. I know it`s a cliché but the first round is hard and the second round is harder. It stays that way all through to the group stage.’

We’ll know our opponents at lunchtime.

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