Burnley striker Vokes sets sights on Europa League group stages

Having netted what could be a vital away goal at Aberdeen, Sam Vokes is hoping to help fire Burnley to the group stages of the Europa League.

Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 8:00 am
Sam Vokes celebrates his equaliser

Vokes came off the bench to score a late leveller at Pittodrie last week, on his European club debut.

But the striker, who famously sealed Wales’ first major international tournament semi-final appearance with a thumping header against Belgium at Euro 2016, knows there are some big hurdles to overcome to reach the group phase,

First up, tonight, the Clarets have their second qualifying second leg against the Dons at Turf Moor - with the winners swiftly moving on to face Turkish side Istanbul Başakşehir.

Should Burnley progress, there would then be a play-off, to get to the group stages, but Vokes admits a trip to Istanbul - where they could come up against the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy - is a big incentive: "It would be nice. It would be massive.

"We had to have a look at Google to find out about them, but it would be good.

"It's an incentive.

"Obviously we want to go as far as can in the competition.

"The incentive for us is the group stage really.

"We had the first hurdle the other night, we've got another one on Thursday and hopefully we'll keep going after that.”

Vokes’ goal makes Burnley slight favourites against Aberdeen, and he enjoyed his first taste of the Europa League: "It was brilliant really. Obviously we'd have liked to have come away with a win and probably a stronger performance, but at that time in pre-season it was a good performance and to get the away goal was always important for us, to come away with that.

"But it's half-time. It's obviously given us an advantage going into the game and bringing them back to Turf Moor.

“It's going to be another tough game for us I think. I'm sure it will be another good atmosphere and another top European night.”

The former Wolves man shrugged off both Aberdeen centre backs to volley in his own flick, and he modestly played it down afterwards, but he smiled: "It was nice to get the goal.

"It was a bit of a blur at the time but I've watched it back. It was typical of the game really, they crowded out the box and you've just got to try to create a chance where you can.

"They stopped us playing and crowded us out, we couldn't really create too many chances, so it was nice to get the goal.

"I won't rank them but it's up there. It was nice - a great moment for me and a great moment for the club to get the first result in Europe after so many years.

“It was a bit of relief as well I think because it was a frustrating game on our part from the offset.

"When they got the goal they kind of camped in a bit so it was nice to get that.

“Obviously going 1-0 down with a bit of injustice I suppose on our side - we were a bit disappointed by that. To then come back, I thought we dominated the game from thereon in.

They made it hard for us to create chances. But when you're sat on the bench you want to come on and affect it and get the goal.”

Aberdeen have to score tonight to give themselves a chance, and Vokes hopes that will play into Burnley’s hands: "I think it will probably pan out a bit differently. With us getting the goal I think they will take the game to us a bit more than they probably did (in the first leg).

"They'll come down here and be maybe a bit more open.

"For us it's just important we keep doing what we do.

"We had another game on Sunday to get more minutes under our belt so we'll be stronger and fitter for that.”