Aberdeen boss Barry Robson was forced to axe training due to Storm Babet on Thursday – but is confident the Reds will be unaffected for their return to action under the Pittodrie lights on Saturday night.
A combination of dangerously-strong gales and rain hit the north-east on the same day Robson’s full squad got back together at Cormack Park following the international break, and ahead of the 6pm Premiership kick-off against Dundee this weekend.
With the bad weather set to extend into Friday, Robson revealed the club have arranged a covered pitch to ensure they don’t have to forego another session, after sticking to preparations which allowed them to shelter from the elements indoors on Thursday.
Speaking ahead of the Dundee clash, which is currently expected to go ahead as planned, Robson said: “We had to do a lot of analysis work on Thursday and we’ve booked an indoor facility for Friday.
“A lot of the work on Thursday was getting everyone back in the building, checking them over and trying to remind them of the things we do.
“We were in the media room for a good hour on Thursday going through a lot of stuff.
“Obviously the weather wasn’t conducive to training – you couldn’t even get out the door.
Saturday is currently looking like wet, but the worst of the wind passing through long before the night time kick off.
At the moment, we aren’t expecting any interruption to the game but, clearly, we’ll constantly keep that under review and advise fans if anything changes.
— Alan Burrows (@Alan_Burrows) October 19, 2023
“But it’s been good.
“We’ve been in the gym and getting them ready. We also had a couple of group meetings, so we’re okay.”
Rubezic ‘fit and ready to go’ despite injury issue with Montenegro
The Aberdeen boss reported a clean bill of health among his seven returning internationalists, including centre-back Slobodan Rubezic, who made his debut for Montenegro during the window when playing 77 minutes in a 3-2 home friendly victory over Lebanon in Podgorica.
Rubezic was subsequently absent from the Montenegro squad for their 3-1 Euro qualifier defeat in Serbia, sparking concern among the eagle-eyed Red Army.
Robson revealed Rubezic developed a knee complaint, but said: “He’s good. He had a niggle in his knee, but we’ve had it checked out and luckily there’s nothing serious there, so he’s fit and ready to go.
“He enjoyed the experience and is in good spirits.
“He felt his knee in the game, but it was more so afterwards.
“They didn’t want to take any chances and it settled down after two or three days. It’s fine.”
Robson embracing ‘challenge’ of 18-game pre-winter break schedule
The Dons went into the international break on “a bit of a run”, to use Robson’s description.
They are now five games undefeated in all competitions, with Rubezic also part of a backline who have secured two clean sheets in their last five domestic games.
Ahead of the Premiership kicking back into life this weekend, Aberdeen are eighth – only four points off fourth-placed Hearts in the standings, and six behind St Mirren and Rangers, in third and second place, respectively.
However, when former Reds assistant Tony Docherty takes his 10th-placed Dundee side to Pittodrie on Saturday, it will be the first fixture in a manic – and surely important – period which will see the Dons play 18 times in the 10-and-a-half weeks before the winter break.
Robson accepts – between league matches, four more Europa Conference League group games and a Viaplay Cup semi-final at Hampden against Hibs (plus a potential final) – the calendar up to the first week of January will be a challenge.
But it is a challenge the boss is embracing.
He said: “Listen, that’s a challenge isn’t it? I knew this at the end of last season. I knew we’d have this amount of games, which would be difficult, but this is where we want to be.
“It’s difficult, but we’re really looking forward to it. We need to put in some right good performances and mix ourselves up a lot tactically.
“We’re going to need to manage the squad well and have a bit of luck with injuries.
“So it’s a big challenge, but one we’re positive about.
“It’s great as a manager to be managing at that high level in Europe. It’s great for the players to be doing it. And obviously there’s a great tradition for this club in Europe.
“It’s a difficult task, but it’s one we all wanted.”
Dons boss explains why Reds’ fringe players looked ‘leggy’ for B team against Fraserburgh
In order to prepare his squad for what is, fittingly, a deluge of matches – including the visit of Conference League Group G leaders PAOK to Pittodrie on Thursday evening – seven players who have been on the fringes of the Aberdeen first-team were included in an Aberdeenshire Shield tie against Fraserburgh during the international break.
The Dons won on penalties, with keeper Ross Doohan, Or Dadia, Rhys Williams, Angus MacDonald, Vicente Besuijen, Pape Habib Gueye and Ester Sokler all featuring.
Robson admits those senior players looked “leggy” turning out for Scott Anderson’s young team – but explained why.
He said: “We worked them hard the days before the game and they actually looked tired on the night.
“That was down to me – we gave them real hard work two days before it and we put them in tired.
“That was just to keep that base of fitness up for them.
“They worked and ran and their numbers were high, but they looked a bit leggy.
“We gave them that hard base to keep them going.”
Aberdeen rally round Israeli right-back Or Dadia in time of Middle East strife
Israeli right-back Dadia would be forgiven for allowing his personal focus to be consumed by the distressing recent events in the Middle East at present.
Robson says the Dons have been ensuring the Hapoel Be’er Sheva loanee is coping, saying: “Football doesn’t matter when it comes to things we are seeing.
“I have spoken to him, and so have (assistant boss) Steve Agnew and (goalkeeping coach) Craig Samson.
“We’ve asked him if everything is okay and it is at the moment.
“It is a tough period for him at the minute, but we are all here for him.
“Hopefully, all his family and everyone remains safe.”