Hibs boss makes Aston Villa admission as he fires Luzern Europa Conference League warning

Lee Johnson has been speaking about Hibs’ Europa Conference League clash with Luzern.
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Lee Johnson insists Hibs have not given much thought to the possibility of a Europa Conference League play-off showdown with Aston Villa because they are so focused on trying to negotiate a 'really tight and tough' tie against Swiss side Luzern.

Hibs learned on Monday that if they get through the third qualifying round over the next week, they will face the English Premier League side later this month for a place in the group stage.

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That prospect has fuelled excitement among supporters, with Hibs’ 2016 Scottish Cup-winning hero John McGinn – a former team-mate of current Hibees Lewis Stevenson and Paul Hanlon – now captain of Villa. However, Johnson is adamant his players’ sole focus this week has been on how to deal with Luzern, who visit Easter Road for the first leg on Thursday.

“Getting through the round is the big incentive for us,” he said. “Obviously Aston Villa would be a huge match for Hibs fans for a number of reasons, particularly John McGinn.

“But our focus has to be on this game. If we start letting our minds go too far into the future, we’re going to the outcome before we’ve sorted out the process.

“To be honest, no one’s even mentioned it (Aston Villa) because I think they understand that this is a really tight and tough game that we’ve got to do our best to win.”

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Johnson described Luzern as a team he would expect to be 'in the top echelons' of the Scottish Premiership when asked to place them in such a hypothetical context.

“We can expect a very good side,” he said of a team that finished fourth in the Swiss Super League last term. “They’re very well organised, with some really good individuals.

“They’ve got pace, they’ve got a 6ft 6ins centre-forward that can hold the ball up. They’re reserved and then super-aggressive in terms of their press so it’s important we understand where the next pass is.

“I like them, they’re a good side, but we’ve got enough footballers and enough threats. The challenge of this game will be about which team can impose their threats on the opponent more.

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“Adam Owen (Hibs assistant) worked at Servette so he has a really good concept of Swiss football and I think when we play at intensity – at our best in your mind’s eye – that could be a factor, so it’s important we do that.

“The objective for us is to win the game. We’re not fearful. Scoring goals is not a problem for us but we’ve got a few weaknesses and we’ve got to coach those weaknesses out.”

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