Ronald Koeman has admitted that Everton's Europa League group draw has pitted them against some "tough" opponents in their first continental adventure for three seasons.
The Dutchman spoke in the wake of his side drawing French giants Lyon, Serie A side Atalanta and Cypriot club Apollon Limassol in group E of the 2017/18 group stages.
In quotes published by the Liverpool Echo, Koeman stated that all three opposing teams would give his players tough run outs ahead of a potential last-32 place next year, but revealed his contentment at not having to travel long distances to face off against those three sides.
He said: "Yeah okay, good. Lyon is a strong team. Atalanta too as they are Italian. But it’s all in a good part of Europe, easy to travel. It’s tough but tough for everybody."
The Toffees' proper Europa League campaign will kick off on Thursday 14th September, and will find out the exact schedule of their home and away clashes with the trio in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Koeman has also not ruled out the possibility of enquiring about a shock loan move for Chelsea outcast Diego Costa.
Straight bat on Ross Barkley questions but "I would be pleased if he stays."— David Prentice (@prenno) August 25, 2017
The striker is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge after manager Antonio Conte told Costa that he would not be part of his first-team plans for this term.
Costa has already stated his desire to complete a remarkable return to former club Atletico Madrid but, due to Los Rojiblancos' current transfer embargo, would not be able to sign the 29-year-old until January.
That is a positive for Koeman, and the 54-year-old added that, whilst it would be difficult to secure Costa's temporary signature, he didn't explicitly say it couldn't happen.
He remarked: “I don't know. I said always a warm welcome for good players and he’s a good player. I think it’s time after Sunday to speak to the board. I don’t know.
“We’re still looking to bring a striker in. It’s not that I’m not happy, I’m really happy about the performances of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but he is still young. We need competition.
“For young players, the most difficult part of playing is being a regular. Dominic is like Tom Davies, he’s an exception and doing really well.”