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Seize the days: Dons urged to embrace vital week despite heavy injuries

Aberdeen's Niall McGinn.
Aberdeen's Niall McGinn.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has labelled it the worst injury crisis of his Pittodrie tenure but Niall McGinn believes the Dons players should embrace the next week as their opportunity to prove themselves.

Funso Ojo and Craig Bryson have become the latest additions to an injury list which seems to be growfocusing ing by the week with the duo joining Scott Wright, Ash Taylor, Scott McKenna and Stephen Gleeson on the sidelines.

Their absences come on the eve of a crucial week for Aberdeen as they face Livingston today followed by a Betfred Cup quarter-final at Hearts on Wednesday and a trip to Ibrox to face Rangers next Saturday.

It promises to be a testing period for the Dons players but McGinn is on the positives. He said: “There have been periods of injuries but this is one where there seems to be a lot of muscle injuries due to freak accidents more than anything.

“But it’s up to us to show the quality of the squad and the guys who come have an opportunity to stake their claim for a place in the side.

“I had to work back from a long-term injury to my ankle but I’m feeling good, feeling fit and the ones who are fit have to carry the mantle.

“Losing Bryson and Ojo on top of the centre-halves is not ideal. You look at the core of the team and having strength through the middle is key so losing players in those central positions is tough.

“Livingston, Hearts and Rangers are the type of games where you need a fully-fit squad. Before those injuries happened I am sure the manager was looking at this week as one where he would be looking to rotate the squad.

“These are big games, they are ones you want to be involved in. We’ve done well at Ibrox recently but we need to improve at Hearts and this is a chance for players to give the manager food for thought.” The Dons head for Livingston eager to bounce back from a disappointing 1-1 draw with St Johnstone at Pittodrie last weekend.

McGinn knows Aberdeen fans will be eagerly anticipating the cup tie and the trip to Ibrox but he insists the Dons players are looking no farther than the Tony Macaroni Arena today.

He said: “It’s an important week, a tough week for the players but we cannot look too far ahead.

“The Hearts and Rangers games are exciting but we’re looking no further than Livingston.

“They were unlucky not to come away with something from Ibrox last week and we know they will be tough opponents but we want to get back to winning ways ourselves after the disappointment of drawing with St Johnstone.

“We’ll take care of the cup game when it comes around but the league is our bread and butter and we want to do as well as possible.

“We’ve played well in games but St Mirren and Kilmarnock away were disappointing.

“We always take a big support with us away from home and they give us great backing in big numbers. They make a good atmosphere and make it feel like a home game at times.

“Livingston have recruited well. They have always been a hard team to break down and they have started the season well.

“They will want to get back to winning ways but we have to concentrate on ourselves, put the injuries out of our heads and concentrate on getting results.”

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