JOHN McGLYNN hopes to avoid a gruelling trip to eastern Europe or the Middle East when Hearts enter the Europa League play-off draw tomorrow.
Moscow, Kharkiv, Trabzon and Tel Aviv are all possible destinations for the Jambos but the manager’s preference would be to minimise travelling and secure a tie closer to home.
Whilst admitting he will accept whatever hand fate deals him in Nyon, McGlynn identified countries like France and Holland as ideal trips for both Hearts players and fans. Marseille, Bordeaux, PSV Eindhoven, FC Twente, AZ Alkmaar and Heerenveen could all be in the pot depending on results in tonight’s third qualifying round second legs. McGlynn said he would like to avoid clubs in far-flung locations, which would include CSKA Moscow, Metalist Kharkiv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Trabzonspor. Other possible opponents for Hearts include some of Europe’s most illustrious names, such as Inter Milan, Lazio, Liverpool, Athletic Bilbao, Sporting Lisbon and Stuttgart.
“I wouldn’t like to go too far away, like into Russia or somewhere like that. So that’s probably where we’ll end up,” joked McGlynn. “France or Holland – anywhere round about that area – would be a nice journey and good for the fans.
“I’m very much the type of person who believes you deal with the cards you’re dealt. We’ll get on with it whatever the draw throws up. We’re very grateful to be in this situation by winning the Scottish Cup and we will look to do as well as we possibly can. If our younger players pick up experience,
“It’s a big attraction because it’s always great to be involved in European football. There are a number of big clubs that we could get. It’s something to really look forward to, especially for me just coming to Hearts. I was involved in European campaigns during Craig’s reign, going to Braga, Bordeaux, Feyenoord, then later on in Bosnia and Athens and places like that.
“These were great nights. Some we won and some we lost but they were great experiences and great games for the fans. It will be great from my own point of view to be the manager of a team that might end up lining up against a Liverpool or a Newcastle or a club like that. It would be another chapter in my development so I’m looking forward to the draw.”
McGlynn said he would welcome another Battle of Britain with Liverpool or Newcastle United following last year’s matches with Tottenham Hotspur. “It created a big interest last season when Hearts played Tottenham. Unfortunately for everyone at Hearts, the game was finished very quickly and no-one will forget the sight of Tottenham. They then got a 0-0 down in London and brought a bit of pride back.”
Meanwhile, Danny Grainger’s fitness improved further yesterday with a 75-minute outing for Hearts Under-20s. The full-back played in the first match of the new under-20 season as Hearts lost 3-1 to Aberdeen. He is now expected to be involved in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby at Easter Road after summer surgery on a groin injury.