Captain John McGinn is set to face his former club on Thursday in Aston Villa's first European tie since 2010Captain John McGinn is set to face his former club on Thursday in Aston Villa’s first European tie since 2010Europa Conference League play-off: Hibernian v Aston Villa

Venue: Easter Road, Edinburgh Date: Wednesday, 23 August Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC Scotland & BBC iPlayer, listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Manager Lee Johnson has urged Hibs to show their “individual brilliance” and thrive as underdogs against an Aston Villa side he believes are favourites to win the Europa Conference League.

The teams meet at sold-out Easter Road in Wednesday’s play-off first leg.

Hibs have come through two qualifying rounds, while Villa are beginning their first European campaign in 13 years.

“You can feel that buzz. This is where we want to be, who we want to be competing against,” said Johnson.

“I think we have a really good opportunity to enhance the reputation of the club. We’ve put ourselves in a good position to go and compete against probably the favourites of the competition.

“It’s a huge challenge. We’ve got to bring our individual brilliance to the game. We always carry a threat. We’ve got pace, we’ve got goals in us. We’ve got to be really confident in our attributes while being respectful of Aston Villa’s strengths.

“It’s not about the lads just turning up for a bit of fun here. We’re not expected to win, but it doesn’t mean we can’t win.”

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The first leg marks an emotional return to Easter Road for Villa captain and Scotland midfielder John McGinn, who won the Scottish Cup with Hibs and helped take them back to the top flight during his three-year spell before moving to the midlands club in 2018.

“It’s not something we’ve focused on even though John was superb for Hibs and has gone down south and been fantastic as well,” added Johnson.

“I’m sure everybody will welcome him back, but when it comes to the game the lads will be focusing solely on our performance.”

Unai Emery, meanwhile, is taking inspiration from Villa’s 1982 European Cup success as they bid to “write a new history”.

The Spaniard - a four-time Europa League winner as a manager - said: “Every day when I go to the training ground there is the ‘82 European Cup [picture]. It’s good to have that memory.

“This is the history for Aston Villa and it’s amazing. Of course we want to write a new history now, doing it our way and hopefully we can do something important here.

“Always when I go in my office I am passing this [picture] and I am always watching the trophy.”

Emery aims to add to his impressive pedigree after winning the Europa League in three successive years with Sevilla from 2014 and triumphing with Villarreal in 2021.

“Playing in Europe always gave me a lot as a coach. In football, I’m so grateful for the possibility to play in Europe like I have,” he added.

“Now with Aston Villa, I want to share with everybody the experiences and I want to share my competitive way. What I did before, I want to do here.”

Team news

Hibs midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes could return from a two-game injury absence. Dutch striker Dylan Vente is fine after being forced off with a facial injury late on in Sunday’s League Cup win over Raith Rovers.

Dylan Levitt won’t feature, but the Wales winger’s ankle injury is not as bad as first feared and he could be back in two to three weeks.

Italy midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, who won the inaugural Europa Conference League with Roma in 2022, is in contention to make his Villa debut after joining on a season-long loan from Galatasaray.

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