Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna has admitted that the Dons are “desperate” to go further than the third qualifying round of the Europa League – and hopes the Pittodrie side could reach the group stages.

Derek McInnes side have competed in the competition in each of the last six seasons but have never got beyond the third qualifying round, losing their four times in a row before last year’s second-round loss to Burnley.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - MAY 04: Scott McKenna of Aberdeen is challenged by Callum McGregor of Celtic during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Celtic at Pittodrie Stadium on May 04, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

McKenna admits the Dons didn’t do themselves any harm against Burnley but has his fingers crossed to go on a “wee run” this time around.

“We have got to the third qualifying round a few times under Derek McInnes and are desperate to go further,” McKenna said, as quoted by the Evening Express.

14th April 2019, Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland; Scottish Cup football, semi final, Aberdeen versus Celtic; Scott McKenna of Aberdeen inspects the pitch before the match

(Photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

“It is four rounds to get to the group stages of the Europa League. This time we want to go on a wee run and hopefully get to the group stages.

“We got a really tough draw in our first Euro tie last year when landing Burnley. Although it was a difficult draw, we went into the ties believing that we could win.

“I don’t think we did ourselves any harm with our performance over the two ties or by losing out to an English Premier League side in extra-time.”

Aberdeen will face RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland in the Europa League first qualifying round with the winner facing Fola Esch or Chikhura Sachkhere.

30th March 2019, Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, Heart of Midlothian versus Aberdeen; Scott McKenna of Aberdeen and Uche Ikpeazu of Hearts compete for possession of the ball

(photo by Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

That should see the Dons progress to the third round, where things could become much tougher, leaving them within touching distance of the group stages.

Should they progress, there would be only one round left between McInnes’ side and the groups – but there would also be the prospect of facing the likes of Feyenoord, AEK Athens, FC Midtjylland or Spartak Moscow.

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