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The New Saints manager Anthony Limbrick says his side's performances in Europe last season will stand them in good stead for their upcoming UEFA Champions League campaign.

The Saints beat Glentoran and FK Kauno ┼Żalgiris in the UEFA Europa Conference League last term -  scoring 13 goals in the process - to reach the third qualifying round.

Limbrick's side then earned a 4-2 victory over Viktoria Plzen in the first leg of the third qualifying round before eventually exiting the competition in cruel fashion after suffering penalty shootout heartache in the second leg in the Czech Republic.

Limbrick's side will compete in the UEFA Champions League this time around - the first time since the 2019/20 season - and have been handed a first qualifying round tie against Northern Ireland club Linfield.

"I don't think we necessarily need to use the result against Viktoria Plzen as motivation," said Limbrick.

"But it gives everybody that bit of belief that we can go further in this competition. We want to push on and our goal last season was to improve on our European performances in recent years.

"We felt that we did that last year and it will be the same target again this season to improve on what we did.

"It's a really difficult tie for us against Linfield because they've got some talented players in their side and a very experienced manager who's been there for many years and won the league many times."

Limbrick guided the Saints to a JD Cymru Premier and JD Welsh Cup triumph in his first full season in charge at Park Hall last term and also oversaw their first UEFA Europa Conference League campaign.

But this will be the first time that he will lead the Oswestry club into the UEFA Champions League and it's a prospect he admits made the managerial role at Park Hall so appealing.

"It's certainly special for myself to have the opportunity to coach in Europe, and it's something that I really enjoyed last season and I learned a great deal from it.

"It will be really leading the team into the UEFA Champions League after winning the league, not just for me but all the staff and the players too.

"That's why you come to The New Saints because you want to put yourself in a position to play or coach in the big games. There are none bigger than the one which is coming up."

The Saints were drawn out of the hat first in the draw, which means they will welcome Linfield to Park Hall for the first leg on Tuesday 5th July before travelling to Windsor Park for the second leg eight days later.

Limbrick's side, who are well into their pre-season camp, have been preparing for the new campaign with a warm-weather training camp in Portugal and now have less than three weeks before the first leg.

"We had a really intense four-day training camp there and it was really hot, but we trained through that heat," he added.

"There were three sessions a day on some days and it was extremely tough for the players, but they reacted very well to it.

"It was a really worthwhile camp and not just on the pitch but also off the pitch as well because we were able to embed some of the young players into the squad. We're heavily into training now and we'll be ready to go for the game next month."

The Saints will take on Norwegian club Bodø/Glimt or Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag of the Faroe Islands in the second qualifying round if they overcome Linfield.

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