Former Aberdeen and Celtic winger Joe Miller believes the Dons’ hopes of stopping the Hoops from winning 10-in-a-row on Sunday hinge on events in Russia tomorrow.
The Premiership champions have won the last nine meetings with the Dons and will be strong favourites to reach double figures at Pittodrie on Sunday but Miller insists a growing injury list and a difficult Europa League tie at Zenit St Petersburg could work in Aberdeen’s favour this weekend.
Miller, who played for Celtic in between two spells with the Dons, said: “What happens on Thursday in Russia will have a huge bearing on Sunday’s game at Pittodrie.
“It’s a long trip for Brendan Rodgers and his players and the Celtic manager is missing some big players. He’s had to pick and choose his team carefully with the Zenit St Petersburg game in mind as he’s struggling with a few injuries at the moment.
“He’ll put out his strongest side in Russia but who plays on Sunday will depend on who’s available while extra time is a possibility and that too would have be taken into consideration.
“European football is tough. Celtic won’t be home until the early hours of Friday then they’ll be heading up the road to Aberdeen on Saturday. It’s a tough schedule the way the fixtures have fallen.
“Aberdeen have been really good at raising their game against the Old Firm especially at home but Celtic have won the last nine games against them including three games at Pittodrie so they will be confident.”
Both sides will be missing key players at Pittodrie on Sunday but with the Hoops carrying more depth in reserve Miller knows the absence of two Aberdeen players in particular will make the task facing the Dons even tougher.
He said: “Brendan fielded a lesser team against St Johnstone on Sunday and they struggled as a result. You need your best players on the pitch and Brendan doesn’t have that but neither will Derek McInnes for this weekend’s game at Pittodrie.
“Graeme Shinnie is suspended which is a huge blow. We saw that at Easter Road on Saturday where Hibs dominated the midfield to beat Aberdeen. With Ryan Christie also missing out due to his loan from Celtic it will make the Dons weaker again.
“It is going to be really tough for Aberdeen without those two players but it is this time of year where leagues are decided and this is why.
“It comes down to which team can carry the strain of being without key players the best and the size of Celtic’s squad means they always have an advantage there.”