Europa League: Aberdeen can overcome Rijeka - Danny Ward

Danny Ward in goal for Aberdeen
Danny Ward is on loan from Liverpool

New Aberdeen goalkeeper Danny Ward says they can overcome the tougher test presented by Rijeka despite only beating Shkendija on away goals.

The Croats, who are the Dons' second qualifying round opponents, won all six qualifying legs last season.

"Obviously it's going to be a step up now," said the 22-year-old who is on a season-long loan from Liverpool.

"But getting through a test like this can only help us go from strength to strength now."

Rijeka beat Standard Liege and Feyenoord at home in last season's group stages - and drew with holders Sevilla, who went on to retain the trophy.

The previous season, they also knocked Stuttgart out in the final qualifying round, but Ward stressed that Shkendija were a side who themselves had players with caps for their country.

"We knew what they were about from last week, they are technically very good, a lot of good players, a lot of internationals," the Wales squad member told Aberdeen's website.

"So it was a good test for us, especially so early in the season.

Sevilla's Ever Banega vies with Rijeka midfielder Ivan Mocinic
Eventual winners Sevilla were held to a draw by Rijeka in last season's Europa League group stage

"You can't take any team in Europe for granted, They were a very good team, very well-organised and hard to break down.

"We know a bit more about Rijeka, so hopefully we'll get a good run in the competition."

Ward has immediately been chosen ahead of long-serving Jamie Langfield and Scott Brown, who kept eight consecutive Scottish Premiership clean sheets last season and 17 in all in his first campaign at Pittodrie.

The Dons drew 1-1 in the first leg in Skopje before keeping out the Macedonians with a fine stoppage-time save in the goalless return.

"I did see it late and thankfully got a hand to it," added Ward. "But the back four were great all night.

"Every time they were called upon they stuck their head in, stuck their foot in, got their bodies in the way.

"It was very disciplined and, as a unit, we are very happy with the clean sheet, and long may it continue.

"The reason I came here was to hopefully get games and thankfully the manager has put his faith in me this early in the season and hopefully I can keep the jersey as long as I can."

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