BOSS Derek McInnes wants Aberdeen to begin their return to Europe next season against Hamilton tomorrow.

The Pitodrie men were knocked out of the Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday night when a 2-0 defeat by Apollon Limassol saw the Cypriot side go through 3-2 on aggregate It is the fourth successive year the Dons’ interest in Europe ended at the same stage - having previously lost out to Maribor, Kairat Almaty and Real Sociedad.

McInnes wants his side to get off and running against Accies in the Ladbrokes Premiership opener at Pittodrie to help them back to European football again next term.

Loading article content

He told the club’s official website: “We need a freshness and enthusiasm as it’s the start of the league campaign because we want to come back again to Europe and the easiest way to do that is through your league campaign.

“We will freshen it up where we can and there will be a few who didn’t play who will be playing and we will hopefully get off to a winning start.

“There is still plenty to be encouraged by and I feel that this squad will get better as we go along.

“Whether we add to the squad or not I am optimistic we will have a good season.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton veteran Dougie Imrie has no plans to make this season his last.

The Accies forward – who turned 34 on Thursday – will kick-off his 12th campaign as a professional at Pittodrie.

Imrie was a late-comer to the senior ranks after starting his career with junior outfit Lanark United but he remains a key figure for boss Martin Canning.

He said: “I feel as fit as ever so pre-season doesn’t really bother me too much.

“Retirement has never really crossed my mind. I aim to play as long as I can and, touch wood, I don’t pick up any serious injuries.

“Hopefully the club can keep its place in the Premiership again and I can play in the top league for as long as I can.

“Could I still be playing at 40? So long as the manager doesn’t decide my old legs are running out on me why not?”