Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes the loss of “natural leader” Lewis Ferguson has left a gaping hole in his midfield for tomorrow’s trip to Motherwell.
Ferguson will miss the game at Fir Park and next weekend’s home match against Celtic serving a two-match suspension following his sending-off against Hibernian.
His absence leaves the Dons with one fit recognised central midfielder in Dean Campbell. McInnes said: “Ferguson is a natural central midfielder and was outstanding against Hibs.
“I spoke to him after the game, it wasn’t a reckless challenge but was mistimed. He was in midfield on his own putting out fires left, right and centre, and he was maybe over-eager to make a challenge and stop Hibs from countering after we had equalised.
“I’m not going to be too critical of him but his absence adds to an already difficult situation.”
The Dons boss insists the 20 year-old’s contribution has been invaluable. He said: “When you look at value in the team in terms of assets, I would say Scott McKenna, Sam Cosgrove and Ferguson have value.
“In terms of what they give to me on a Saturday I’ve had that value from them on a regular basis.
“January has always been a window where you have to react to the situation.
“I’d like us to be in January now and have the ability to deal with what we have to deal with.
“If you have a young, first-pick centre-half in McKenna, you expect people to see what we see and what Steve Clarke sees.
“Anybody who is doing any sort of recruitment of any level acknowledges there is a striker with size and ability in Cosgrove.
“I don’t worry about interest being shown in these players and I know if they fulfil their potential their form and ability will take them elsewhere at some point.”
Craig Bryson and Stephen Gleeson have trained but McInnes is reluctant to throw either straight into the fray at Fir Park. He said: “Bryson has done a bit of training today and we’ll see how he reacts to it. He has got a lot to do.
“With Ferguson and Curtis Main suspended it’s quite challenging.
“We’ve got six good defenders and we’re not too bad at the top end of the pitch but midfield is the problem and the suspension of Ferguson makes it even more frustrating.
“Sometimes as a manager your job can be easy. You pick the same team and when we have had our best results over the years it has come when you can name 10 of my starting 11.
“Sometimes it is more of a challenge and you have to find different ways to pick up points – and that’s what we’re facing just now.”