PRESTON Athletic boss Jack Lynch says playing in Scotland’s national cup competition is “a privilege”.

The East of Scotland team will be flying the flag for East Lothian in the Scottish Cup this weekend when they make the trip to Linlithgow Rose.

None of the other county teams currently play in the competition, which will see the final played at Hampden Park in May 2020.

Preston are aiming to pick up just their third win in the tournament in the last five years.

Last year, the Pennypit side won 3-1 at home to Glasgow University in the first preliminary round before coming unstuck against Linlithgow, who won 2-0 in East Lothian.

Lynch was full of praise for his opponents, who top the East of Scotland Premier Division with three wins out of three.

He said: “Playing in the Scottish Cup is brilliant – you should take it as a privilege, to be honest.

“You are going to Linlithgow Rose who are, arguably, one of the biggest non-league clubs in Scotland with support and history.

“It is kind of a free hit for us.

“Nobody is expecting us to do anything and nobody expects us to go and get a result.

“They have made some great signings over the summer but even last year we ran them close a couple of times in the league.”

The manager felt Preston were stronger – both on and off the park – than they had been since he joined the club.

A reshuffled squad has given the club hope of promotion and Lynch told Courier Sport: “The difference this year is we have got the strongest squad of players I have had in the three seasons I have been here.

“The competition for places is ridiculous; it is immense.

“If somebody cannot make it because of work you are not missing a star player – you have got somebody equally as good to come back.

“It is going to be a real headache for me because I have got so many talented players but it is a good headache to have.”

The Panners finished sixth in Conference C last term, agonisingly losing out on a place in the new top flight on goal difference.

Promotion is once again the aim of the game for Lynch and his squad, who are looking to join Dunbar United, Musselburgh Athletic and Tranent Juniors in the Premier Division.

Lynch said: “With the squad we have got – a lot of my younger players, I have got guys who are 17 and 18 and a lot of new, young players but they are talented – there is no reason why we cannot go on and win the league.

“It would be silly for me to saying we are just trying to do our best.

“Our aim this year is to win the league.”