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McInnes and Dons to recover from Celtic defeat in Tenerife

Derek McInnes
Derek McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his players, who are enjoying a warm-weather training camp in Tenerife this week, will emerge stronger from their 4-0 Premiership defeat by champions Celtic at Parkhead on Sunday.

The Dons’ hopes of moving level on points with the league leaders ended in disappointment as they were brushed aside by the clinical Hoops.

The result brought Aberdeen’s 13-game unbeaten league run to an end – a sequence that had stretched back to Celtic’s 2-1 success at Pittodrie in November.

McInnes admitted Sunday’s defeat was a difficult one to take but believes his players will have learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

McInnes said: “There is a lot to like about my team – I am not going to be too critical. I am always looking to improve them.

Dejected Dons players trudge off the Parkhead pitch on Sunday
Dejected Dons players trudge off the Parkhead pitch on Sunday

“Sometimes you have to go through disappointments to get stronger. We have a young team and I think the last disappointment was the semi-final against Dundee United where the performance wasn’t too bad – but again we lost a goal from a set-play.

“There are things we can improve on, areas we must improve to make the next step. But I’m not going to be critical of my team as it was because of their efforts that everyone was so excited about Sunday’s match and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

“We took a sore one and Celtic deservedly won the game but the players deserve a lot of credit and there is no criticism from me.

“Just an acceptance that maybe we are not quite ready to go and take them on. But there is the feeling we can improve and that’s the target for any team.”

The Dons now have to wait until a week on Friday before they can get back in action when bottom of the league Motherwell visit Pittodrie.

McInnes is unsure whether attacking midfielder Jonny Hayes will be fit to face the Steelmen, who defeated Caley Thistle 2-1 at Fir Park on Saturday.

Hayes was a surprise inclusion in the Aberdeen team after recovering from a hamstring injury but the Irish midfielder lasted little more than half an hour before limping off.

McInnes said: “We will need to assess it over the next couple of days. Hopefully it’s not too bad because he is a key player.

“Jonny going off didn’t help matters as he was always going to be an important player for us. He went off with a calf injury. He’d been getting treatment for his hamstring, so it was a totally different injury.

“We weren’t prepared to take a gamble with him. We made the decision on Saturday to go with him because he trained fine.”

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