Leighton Baines has admitted that, while he is relishing the prospect of meeting Wolfsburg and Lille in the Europa League, he was hoping for Celtic.
He may have represented England at a World Cup and played at Wembley in an FA Cup final for Everton, but Leighton Baines had been hoping to add another memorable night of football to his CV this season – a European night at Parkhead.
The Toffees favourite had wanted to face-off against Celtic in the Europa League this season and sample the famous Celtic Park atmosphere for himself.
As the Everton players assembled at their Finch Farm base to watch the draw, Baines was hoping to see the Blues come out in the same group as the Bhoys – but it wasn’t to be.
"The one team I was hoping for was Celtic but they didn’t end up in our group unfortunately," he told the Liverpool Echo. "That would have been a great game to play in."
Despite this, the 29-year-old is relishing the chance to test himself in mouth-watering ties against the likes of Lille and Wolfsburg, as well as surprise package Krasnodar of Russia.
On paper, Celtic have a much easier draw with games against Dinamo Zagreb, Romanian minnows Astra and Red Bull Salzburg.
And as such Baines will know that progress to the knockout stages of the competition could pave the way for a two-leg meeting with Celtic – they just have to get past their Ligue 1, Russian Premier League and Bundesliga opponents first.
The England international, however, is relishing the prospect of continental competition at Goodison Park.
"It’s the ideal stage to go and show that we’re moving on to another level," he said.
The Toffees take on Wolfsburg on matchday one, with Celtic in action against Salzburg.