• Everton boss Ronald Koeman (Getty Images)
Everton's UEFA Europa League group may be harder than Ronald Koeman would have liked but the Dutchman was pleased two of their away days are fairly close to home.
26 Aug 2017 - 8:11 AM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2017 - 8:11 AM

The Toffees, who qualified with a 3-1 aggregate play-off win over Hajduk Split, are in Group E, alongside Lyon, Atalanta and Apollon Limassol.

And while Koeman identified the Ligue 1 and Serie A outfits as particularly tricky opponents, he is grateful for the shorter trips they will offer.

"It's a good, strong group," he told a pre-match news conference as Everton prepare to face Chelsea.

"Lyon, a strong team, Atalanta, an Italian team, but I think they are in a good part of Europe. It's easy to travel.

"It's tough, but it's tough for everybody."

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Seven-time European champion AC Milan's bid for a first Europa League title continues in a group with Austria Vienna, Croatian side Rijeka and AEK Athens.

Director of football Steve Walsh is excited by the prospect of the ties, though, as he hopes Everton can replicate Manchester United's success last season and win the competition.

"It's an exciting challenge and a terrific opportunity to showcase our team in Europe," he said. "Hopefully we'll be able to progress to the next stage.

"I've visited both Lyon and Atalanta in the last 12 months. They are both strong sides who finished in good positions last season in their leagues, but we will be up for the challenge and, if we want to win this competition, we will need to play the best."