Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass confirmed he will use the international break to fully integrate his recent signings into his squad.
After a hectic start to the campaign where the Reds were competing in both Europe and domestically, there is finally chance to take stock – and a breather.
Glass revealed he has had little time to work with his squad in training sessions at Cormack Park since the season began on July 22.
The Dons had been in a continuous loop of European action on Thursday, recovery, and then domestic action on a Sunday – then repeat.
Glass wanted that relentless and gruelling cycle to continue with qualification for the group stages of the Europa Conference League.
However, the Euro campaign was brutally ended by a superior Qarabag team as the Azerbaijan outfit progressed from the play-offs 4-1 on aggregate.
Glass will use the near two-week window afforded by the international break to gel his team and get them firing on all cylinders.
They will have to, because Aberdeen entered the break on the back of a five-game run without victory following the 1-1 draw with Ross County.
Glass said: “We have not trained in terms of proper sessions since pre-season really because of the amount of European games.
“Now we have the chance to put that right.
“It is important that we take advantage of that and we have the chance to do it right on the training pitch.
“As we have gone out of Europe, the games will now be Saturday to Saturday for the next month or so.”
Time for new signings to gel in squad
The international break for World Cup qualifiers has opened a convenient window for Glass to integrate four recent signings into his new-look squad.
Loan signings Matty Longstaff (Newcastle United) and Austin Samuels (Wolves) both made starting debuts in the 1-1 draw with Ross County.
Attacker Marley Watkins also came off the bench in the second half against the Staggies having recently penned a two-year contract.
Watkins had been signed on a one-month short term deal with Cardiff City, which was effectively an extended loan.
Despite netting twice in a 3-2 EFL Cup defeat of Sutton United on August 10, Cardiff City boss Mick McCarthy opted not to offer a long-term deal to Watkins.
Aberdeen moved to secure the return of the attacker, who was so influential on a loan deal from Bristol City last season before suffering a hamstring injury in November that forced a return to his parent club.
Watkins knows many of the players as well as the expectation and culture at Pittodrie – he will not need much time to settle in.
Bates still waiting for his Aberdeen debut
Scotland international defender David Bates was also signed on a three-year contract from German Bundesliga 2 side Hamburg.
The 24-year-old watched the draw with Ross County from the sidelines as the Dons awaited his international clearance.
Aberdeen had just two fit senior centre-backs prior to the arrival of Bates, capped four times by Scotland.
They are Scotland international Declan Gallagher, currently with Steve Clarke’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers, and Ross McCrorie. who has been utilised in that role this season having played midfield and right-back last term.
Scotland international Andy Considine is out until the turn of the year, having suffered cruciate ligament damage in the 1-0 Europa Conference League play-off first leg loss to Qarabag in Azerbaijan.
Bates will be in contention to start in the first game after the international break – away to Motherwell, on Saturday September 11.
Glass said: “Through the pre-season we were able to work with the team and put in place the way we wanted the group to play.
“They were coming together and gelling as a unit.
“It is important that works over the next period of time leading into the Motherwell game and beyond.
“It is a group of players that are playing together for the first time.”
Players away on international duty
Glass will not have his full squad at his disposal during the break as a number of players are away on international duty.
Midfielder Lewis Ferguson, along with Gallagher, is in the Scotland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Denmark, Moldova and Austria.
Rising right-back star Calvin Ramsay has been named in the Scotland U21 squad to face Turkey away in Euro qualifier on September 7.
Midfielder Dean Campbell, who has played as a back-up left-back in recent games, is also in the Scotland U21 squad.
Attacker Niall McGinn is in the Northern Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania, Estonia and Switzerland.
Work on goalscoring and defending
Aberdeen created a host of chances against Ross County, but could only salvage a point courtesy of a late leveller from Ramirez.
They were also hesitant at the back for the Staggies’ goal and these are issues Glass will address during the international break.
He said: “We want to be as dominant as we were against Ross County, but we want to score more goals.
“We want to keep them out at the other end as well.
“We have the opportunity to put the work in on the training ground and hope that bears fruit.”