The depth of his squad is being tested, but Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is confident his players can cope with the club’s festive schedule.
The Dons are up to fourth in the Scottish Premiership and have the chance to go level with third-placed Dundee United by beating them at Tannadice on Saturday.
With matches against Kilmarnock, second-placed Caley Thistle, St Johnstone and Motherwell to follow during the festive run, McInnes knows his squad will be tested to the limit.
Midfielder Barry Robson has missed the last three matches with a hip injury, while Irish midfielder Willo Flood as well as captain and defender Russell Anderson are not expected to feature until 2015 due to hamstring and calf injuries.
Robson remains doubtful for Saturday’s game at United as he has yet to resume full training.
McInnes said: “The squad’s stretched a bit at the moment. We’ve got a very young squad, and very young players on the bench, so every player will be important to us over this period.
“This time last year we won seven of our eight games before we progressed in the semi-final of the League Cup so we know the importance of being strong at this time of the season.
“We’ve had a lot of good performances of late. The two defeats we’ve had, in the cup game against Dundee and the Celtic match, have come with us conceding last-minute goals.
“We’ve had a lack of concentration rather than a lack of performance. The performances in general have been good of late so we’re giving ourselves a chance to win games.
“We did that on Saturday against Hamilton and we hope to do it against Dundee United.
“We’ll have to as it will take a strong performance if we want to get a result at Tannadice.”
One part of the Dons’ play which really pleased the manager last weekend was the sight of Ashton Taylor scoring from a corner kick to give Aberdeen the lead. It’s a trend McInnes hopes continues.
He said: “We feel we should be scoring more from our set plays.
“We’ve been doing all right this year, but there is always room for improvement.
“It was a good delivery to the middle of the goal and Ash had enough determination and aggression to get on the end of it.
“We were delighted with that because it separated a tight, frantic first half. It was quite scrappy.
“There was a maturity in our performance and it shows me the players are trying to learn, that’s all we can ask from them.”