Aberdeen assistant manager Tony Docherty is confident Aberdeen can end their five-year Hearts hoodoo without Jonny Hayes at Tynecastle tomorrow.
The Dons have not won at the Edinburgh ground since a 3-0 victory in January 2010 when Darren Mackie, Derek Young and a 16-year-old Fraser Fyvie were on the scoresheet.
Docherty’s Reds, five points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership, will be without attacking midfielder Hayes as they look to extend their winning run to eight matches.
The Irishman’s appeal against his red card in last week’s 2-1 win against Celtic was unsuccessful, meaning he will miss tomorrow’s Tynecastle tussle as well as Wednesday’s League Cup tie away to Hibernian.
Docherty said: “I was surprised by that decision but I respect the process.
“We have some very good players who have been on the bench waiting for their chance but the boys who have got the jerseys have been doing enough to keep them.
“We want to have that strong competition for places.
“Everyone knows what Jonny Hayes brings to the team but this gives someone else an opportunity. Jonny’s loss is someone’s else’s gain.
“We are sorry for Jonny but we have a belief in the squad that someone else will take the opportunity.”
Docherty is pleased to see Hearts back in Scotland’s top flight after a year in the Championship following their relegation last year.
Tynecastle is sold out for tomorrow’s match and the Aberdeen assistant manager believes the supporters are in for a treat.
He added: “If I had nothing to do this weekend I would be going along to our game. It has the potential to be a cracking match between two teams who are doing well and play the right type of football.
“Hearts have been fantastic this season and they have already been on a seven-game winning run this season if you include the League Cup.
“We realise how difficult it is going to be and we will have to be at our best to take all three points.
“It is always a great atmosphere at Tynecastle and it is a match that we are all looking forward to.”
Mark Reynolds (shoulder) is Aberdeen’s only other absentee with Ash Taylor expected to be fit, despite requiring eight stitches following a clash of heads against Hamilton on Tuesday.