Hughes confident for Euro bow

Date published: Wednesday 15th July 2015 10:34

Victory over Falkirk in last season’s Scottish Cup final ensured the club would compete internationally for the first time in their 21-year history.

Romanian side Astra Giurgiu provide the opposition in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying tie and Hughes is hoping that there will be a healthy turn-out for the marquee match. 

He told the Inverness Courier: “Getting a big attendance would be a massive boost for the players. It will show you what it means to the Highlands. It’s a historic occasion and we need a full house.

“If the vibe is like what it was at the Scottish Cup final, it will certainly help the boys a long way.” 

Long-term absentee Dean Brill will not be involved but Richie Foran – who has been out of action since March with a knee injury – could make the bench having played a part in pre-season.

David Raven, Ross Draper and James Vincent – who were taken off as precautions during Saturday’s draw with St Mirren – will all be in the matchday squad.

Spanish forward Dani Lopez will also be available after completing his signing and Hughes is confident of getting a positive result.

He said: “I think we are good enough to beat them. We might surprise them a bit but to do that you need to earn the right. You have to be brave, grab the chance to get on the ball and make it happen.

“If we’re sloppy, most counter-attacking teams will punish us. But it could be one of those nights where everything goes for us and we’ll be jumping.

“They will be a very good, strong, organised and technical. What we have to do is have the right shape and not be too cavalier.”

Meanwhile, Brian Rice has joined the club as assistant manager, replacing Russell Latapy, who left the club earlier this month. Rice, 51, has previously worked with Hughes at Falkirk and Hibs.

Astra – who finished fourth in the Romanian league behind Steaua Bucharest – reached the group stages of this competition last season where they competed in the same section as Celtic, losing 2-1 in Glasgow and drawing 1-1 in Giurgiu.

Their international winger Gabriel Enache told the Evening Times: “Our aim this year is get further than last year and we must reach the group stages at least. But we have to concentrate against Inverness.

“Our manager has said to us they are a team who rely on set pieces but we have advantages too. We are good on the counter-attack and want to capitalise on that.

“It would be pleasing to get off to a good start in Scotland and we hope we can make it easy for ourselves when we play the return leg in Giurgiu.”

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