Alex Neil swats aside talk of Hamilton playing in Europe

Hamilton player-manager Alex Neil
Alex Neil has been operating as player-manager at Hamilton since manager Billy Reid left the club

Hamilton Academical player-manager Alex Neil refuses to entertain any notion that his side are aiming to qualify for European competition.

The New Douglas Park club currently sit third in the Scottish Premiership on 39 points, four behind leaders Aberdeen and three adrift of Celtic.

"It's far too early to mention European football," he told BBC Scotland.

"Top six is certainly achievable for us - that must be our aim now and I'd be disappointed if that wasn't the case."

Accies are 12 points ahead of seventh-place Kilmarnock with 13 games to go before the league splits into top six and bottom six.

"We've not lost two league games in a row all season after 20 games, which is an incredible achievement for us," said Neil.

"Performances probably dipped for a wee spell, that's probably a fair comment. But the last four or five weeks, our intensity's back to where it was at the start of the season and we're getting the results to back that up.

Tony Andreu and Ali Crawford
Tony Andreu and Ali Crawford have been in excellent form for the Accies this season

"Talk of European football is far too early, because when the split does come you're playing the top teams in the league, so it becomes even more difficult to achieve that."

Given the success of Hamilton's first season back in the top flight since 2009-10, there is no shortage of transfer speculation surrounding the future of certain players.

is reportedly being courted by Celtic and West Ham, and the 19-year-old admits it would be a dream to play in the English Premier League.

Frenchman Tony Andreu, formerly of Livingston, has hit 13 goals so far this campaign and appears to be a fast-improving player.

Player-manager Alex Neil is top of the pile as the Accies celebrate Tony Andreu's goal against Dundee in a 2-1 win in December
Player-manager Alex Neil is top of the pile as the Accies celebrate Tony Andreu's goal against Dundee in a 2-1 win in December

"No, we've not had any contact from any clubs," explained Neil, who joined Accies in 2005.

"It's still very early in the transfer window. Most teams do their business later in the window when they try and get them a bit cheaper.

"They've just got to continue on in their form at the moment and if something happens, it happens."

Celtic assistant manager John Collins attended Hamilton's 1-0 win at St Johnstone on Sunday, and his daughter happens to be the girlfriend of 26-year-old Andreu.

"I don't think that'll have any bearing on anything, if I'm being honest," added Neil.

"Celtic will do their transfer business based on players, not based on relationships.

"If there wasn't interest from Celtic or anyone else, I'd be surprised. They must be interested in the top goalscorer in the league.

"But at the end of the day, he's our player and he's contracted for another 18 months.

"Whatever does come Tony's way is fully merited. He's been absolutely fantastic for us, he's a top-class player and a top-class guy as well.

"He's an absolute dream to work with. He never misses a training session and is not a minute's problem."

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