Lewis Ferguson hopes Tommie Hoban and Mikey Devlin get their injury breaks as Aberdeen look to replace Scott McKenna.
Manager Derek McInnes stated no replacement will be brought in, meaning the opportunity is there for the likes of Devlin, Hoban and Ash Taylor to take up the mantle.
Hoban signed a short-term deal with the Dons this summer after 18 months out with a cruciate ligament injury. He has been a regular presence in the side alongside McKenna and Andy Considine in a back three.
Devlin is working his way back from a hamstring injury suffered in pre-season. He too has had his misfortune with injury, with knee and ankle problems besetting his last two seasons.
Ferguson has seen first hand the work the two men have put in to get fit and has confidence the Dons can fill the McKenna-shaped gap in their defence.
He said: “We’ve got the players to do that. We’ve got Tommie Hoban in, who’s a top player. We’ve got the likes of Andy, Ash, Mikey to come back, Ross can play there, Shay can play there. There’s loads of boys who can do a job in that area.
“Obviously Scott is a massive loss and we miss him, but it’s time for someone else to step up and slot into that centre-back area.
“Mikey’s struggled with injuries as everybody knows and I do feel for him, the way things sometimes turn out. He never gets too down, he’s a positive guy. He’s working his socks off now to get fit and I think he’ll be back soon. Hopefully he can get himself back in the team and back playing football.”
The Dons midfielder is convinced they have a real player on their hands in Hoban, who was on loan at Pittodrie from Watford prior to his release last year.
Ferguson said: “When he first came up everybody could see the quality he has. He was just so lucky with injuries. He did his shoulder, came back and then had a horrendous injury. It was horrible for him but he is that type of guy, like Mikey is, who is positive and he works constantly.
“He is never out of the gym and is always strengthening certain areas. I am delighted he is back here and he is starting to play more and more games. Hopefully, he can continue injury free because first and foremost he is a great defender. He is a proper defender and he does everything simple on the ball so he can be a big player for us.”
“He was at Watford who were a Premier League side. He has so much quality. He loves to defend, is good in the air and keeps things simple. He does everything right and what defenders need to do. I hope he can stay clear of injury and can get a run because he can be a massive player for Aberdeen.”