AS Dundee United prepare to face AZ Alkmaar, Jack Ross has insisted that the club cannot suffer from the “inferiority complex” that can dog Scottish clubs when they face continental opposition.

The Dutch side are heavy favourites to progress to the play-off round of the Europa Conference League, but Ross stressed that United should not be overawed by the prospect of facing the side that finished fifth in last season’s Eredivisie.

United go in to the match off the back of what have been some disappointing results for Scottish clubs in Europe. Motherwell were knocked out of the Conference League by Sligo Rovers last week while Rangers suffered a 2-0 defeat to Union Saint-Gilloise.

For United, it is their first crack at European football since they were knocked out of Europa League qualifying by Dynamo Moscow a decade ago.

Ross, 46, grew up in an era when United competed with some of the best clubs on the continent and believes there must be an ambition to again shake up Europe.

He said: “My first experience of watching football was in the 80s when Aberdeen and Dundee United were reaching European finals. 

“My childhood memories are based around Dundee United being a force in European football and reaching the UEFA Cup final. We look back at that now and realise what a big achievement that was, especially given some of the clubs they beat along the way.

“There has always been that correlations between European success and Dundee United. 

“We have an opportunity — albeit still very far away from what was accomplished by that group — to defeat an established European opponent and write our own little piece of legacy unto this club’s European history. 

“There can be a tendency in Scotland to have an inferiority complex when we shouldn’t. One of our teams reached a European final last season. We have good players and good teams in this league. We face good teams at a domestic level; AZ are not an opposition beyond levels that we face within our own domestic league. 

“So, it is a different challenge, but one we believe we can progress through — but we need to play well.

“The number of [Scottish] players who have moved and are playing in the top level of English football or the top five leagues in Europe — we have a presence there. That is an indication that there are, and there always has been, good players in Scotland. 

“We downplay our own game too much and, for me, it’s about encouraging ourselves. And you’ll see that on Thursday night; we have good players who can deal with the football. But we need to have the confidence and belief to show that.”

AZ beat Bosnian side Tuzla City 5-0 on aggregate to set up the third round tie against United.

Tonight’s first leg at Tannadice will be played in front a crowd that will be close to capacity.

Ross said: “We’ve got a group now who have pretty good experience and have played in big occasions and big ties; they have experienced European football and a lot of matches at that level. So I don’t worry about that. 

“For us, it’s more about feeding into that crowd and being aggressive. The word ‘aggression’ is often associated with being overly physical. It’s not. It’s about how aggressive we are with the ball and how we press the game. 

“Rather than downplay things, it’s about us embracing that will come from the stands. We’ve then got to produce a performance that feeds back into that. 

“You can sense from the people around the club that there is an anticipation. You look at the number of tickets sold. But as a manager, it’s my job and I can detach myself emotionally from everything because I need to on a daily basis.

“It certainly doesn’t downplay that, when the game begins on Thursday, it’s an exciting one to be involved in.”

Meanwhile, Dylan Levitt hopes to use his experience of upsetting the odds with Wales when he takes to the pitch tonight.

The 21-year-old midfielder has 12 caps for his country and is aiming to be part of the squad that plays at the World Cup later this year.

Levitt said: “I’ve played against the Dutch national team. They had a lot of the ball and they were difficult to break down. They could handle the ball in difficult situations. They were big, powerful, strong players but every one of them is good on the ball.

“We lost 3-2 in Holland and 2-1 in Cardiff. They were both last minute goals. We equalised in the 90th minute (a Gareth Bale penalty) but Memphis Depay scored the winner straight from the kick off. 

“Dutch teams have a possession-based style. They are very good at keeping the ball under pressure and when they attack they go full out and they press you. But it’s not something we haven’t faced before.

“I’ve been around the Wales squad and they go into every game looking to do well. I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from them.”