European adventure has given us 'hunger' to go further - Linfield captain Mulgrew

Linfield players congratulate goalscorer Bastien Hery on Saturday
Linfield players congratulate goalscorer Bastien Hery on Saturday

Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew says the progress the club made in European competition last year has made them "hungry" to do even better in 2020.

The Irish Premiership champions face Kosovan side Drita in the preliminary final in Nyon on Tuesday (17:00 BST).

The winners will be away to Legia Warsaw in the first qualifying round.

"Last year was a brilliant journey and it has given us the hunger and determination to try and replicate that and go one step further," said Mulgrew.

The Blues went out 6-0 on aggregate to Rosenborg in Champions League qualifying last season but produced a series of outstanding performances in the Europa League qualifiers to make the play-off stage.

David Healy's side fell just short of becoming the first Irish League side to progress to the Europa League group stages, losing to Qarabag on away goals after the tie ended 4-4 over the two legs.

'A big ask but there's no harm in us dreaming'

"It's a big ask but there's no harm in us dreaming and striving to be better than we were last season," Mulgrew told the Linfield FC website.

"We're all of the same mindset that we want to continue that journey on this year if possible," added the Blues skipper, who made his 37th appearance for the club in European competition on Saturday - a club record.

Bastien Hery and new signing Christy Manzinga scored the goals as Linfield saw off San Marino champions Tre Fiori 2-0 in Nyon on Saturday.

Christy Manzinga
Christy Manzinga scored on his competitive debut for Linfield against Tre Fiori

"The conditions were tough - when you come out here you really feel the heat," explained Mulgrew.

"Christy hasn't been with us that long but like the rest of the boys who have come in they he has settled really well into the group.

"The new signings have all shown the qualities they possess and the reason the club and the manager wanted them here.

"We have a fantastic squad and a big squad so we are all fighting for places.

"Drita are a team we have watched now so we have more information on them. They possess a lot of threats and players who can be dangerous to us so it won't be an easy match."

The winners of Tuesday's encounter will take on Legia Warsaw on 18/19 August over one leg, with the winners advancing to the second qualifying round and the losers into the draw for the second stage of Europa League qualifying.

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