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Koeman wary of threat from Ruzomberok.

RONALD Koeman wants Everton to have established a commanding first leg lead over Ruzomberok next week ahead of a "difficult" return tie.

The Blues will face the Slovakian outfit in the third qualifying round of the Europa League with the first leg taking place at Goodison on Thursday.

Koeman admits he was surprised to see Ruzomberok overturn a first leg deficit and knock out SK Brann with a 2-0 win in Norway last week.

And he has told his squad they must seize the advantage at home next week before a challenging trip to Slovakia.

"I was a little bit surprised," Koeman said.

"I watched the first game on the computer and for the Norwegian team it was a really good result.

"We didn't expect this result but anyway we know what we will get.

"It is a difficult trip but we play at home next Thursday and we need to be prepared to get a really good result at home and then we can reach the next round."

Koeman has also praised the "good behaviour" of the Everton players after they returned to pre-season training in good shape.

The Blues manager was left frustrated by the condition of the squad he inherited last summer and before the opening game with Spurs saying they were only 70% fit.

But Koeman says tests done on their return to Finch Farm on July 3 confirmed their levels were on par with when they left at the end of last season.

"Our fitness levels are really good," Koeman said.

"The stats showed us that when the players came back from holiday their physical level was still the same from the time they went on holiday and that's really good behaviour of the players.

"They know the intensity of the training and it's a big difference to last season.

"Then I was the new manager and now we know each other really well. I know their character and it's better now than it was last season."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 23, 2017
Words:332
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