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Aberdeen receive Slobodan Rubezic fitness boost as interim boss Neil Warnock reveals timeframe for return

Centre-back Rubezic has been ruled out since picking up a knee injury in the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone last month.

Aberdeen defender Slobdan Rubezic holds his knee after suffering an injury in the 1-1 draw at St Johnstone. Image: SNS
Aberdeen defender Slobdan Rubezic holds his knee after suffering an injury in the 1-1 draw at St Johnstone. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen interim boss Neil Warnock is optimistic defender Slobodan Rubezic will play again this season.

Rubezic has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone on January 24.

Team-mates held up Rubezic’s No.33 shirt in support of the centre-back after scoring in a 1-1 draw with Dundee, the first game after his injury blow, with initial fears Rubezic could be ruled out for the season – but scans revealed the 23-year-old did not require surgery.

Warnock confirmed the defender has stepped up his rehabilitation and is “dying to get back” to action this season.

Aberdeen have failed to keep a clean sheet in their eight Premiership matches since returning from the winter break.

Bojan Miovski (9) and Ester Sokler hold up Slobodan Rubezic's shirt. Image: Shutterstock
Bojan Miovski (9) and Ester Sokler hold up Slobodan Rubezic’s shirt. Image: Shutterstock.

Warnock said: “I think Rubezic might be back before the end of the season.

“We are quite optimistic.

“Rubezic is dying to get back bless him.

“I think he’ll enjoy playing for me.

“They put a brace on it (Rubezic’s knee) and he had to do exercises and things.

“There’s nothing worse than a long-term injury.”

Injured Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic looks on during the Premiership clash against Dundee. Image: SNS
Injured Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic looks on during the Premiership clash against Dundee. Image: SNS.

Angus MacDonald doing extra training

Aberdeen have conceded nine goals in the four Premiership games managed by Warnock, with a return of two points from a possible 12.

In the aftermath of the 2-0 loss at Kilmarnock on Saturday, Warnock hit out at the lack of physicality in the Aberdeen team.

He bemoaned the manner of the goals conceded, and said Aberdeen were “too nice” and needed to be nastier.

Centre-back Angus MacDonald has not started a Premiership game under Warnock.

The 31-year-old started the 2-0 Scottish Cup win over Bonnyrigg Rose under Warnock, but has struggled to get league action.

A key figure in the Dons finishing third last season, MacDonald also struggled to get game-time earlier this term under former boss Barry Robson.

MacDonald’s only Premiership appearance under Warnock has come as a substitute in the 3-3 draw with Motherwell.

He was introduced in the 30th minute with the Dons trailing 3-0.

Following his introduction and a switch from three at the back to four, Aberdeen rallied to salvage a draw.

Warnock insists MacDonald is doing extra work in a bid to get into the starting line-up.

Aberdeen's Slobodan Rubezic (L) is replaced by Angus MacDonald (R) because of an injury against St Johnstone. Image: SNS
Aberdeen’s Slobodan Rubezic (L) is replaced by Angus MacDonald (R) because of an injury against St Johnstone. Image: SNS.

He said: “With the lads who are not in the team, it is hard when there is no reserve team.

“People like Angus (MacDonald), they need minutes really.

“You can train all day, but it is not the same as a game.

“Some do extra training – Angus does extra training to try to keep himself fit.”

Aberdeen’s Angus MacDonald after the 3-3 draw against Motherwell. Image: SNS.

‘I’m sure their agents are busy behind the scenes’

Former Sheffield United, Cardiff City and Leeds United boss Warnock was appointed interim manager until the end of the season.

The 75-year-old will oversee the first team while the Dons’ hierarchy search for a new permanent manager.

Aberdeen will have a new manager in the summer to prepare for the 2024/25 season.

However, whether or not two key players will still be at Pittodrie to work with the new manager next season remains up in the air.

Midfielder Connor Barron and Kelle Roos are both out of contract at the end of the campaign.

Aberdeen keeper Kelle Roos pictured during the 2-0 Premiership loss to Hibs at Easter Road. Image: SNS
Aberdeen keeper Kelle Roos is out of contract at the end of the season. Image: SNS.

Having entered the final few months of their contracts, both are free to speak to other clubs.

Aberdeen initially opened talks with Pittodrie youth academy graduate Barron and his representative more than a year ago.

A deal was offered, but there was no resolution.

However, Aberdeen re-opened contract talks and Warnock confirmed a new deal was offered.

Barron has started all four Premiership games managed by Warnock.

The Dons turned down a £500,000 bid from English Championship Swansea for Scotland under-21 captain Barron on January transfer deadline day.

Aberdeen manager talks with Connor Barron in the 2-0 loss at Kilmarnock. Image: Shutterstock
Aberdeen manager Neil Warnock talks with Connor Barron in the 2-0 loss at Kilmarnock. Image: Shutterstock

If Barron does not sign a new deal and exits in the summer, Aberdeen would still be due a sizeable development compensation fee.

Asked if he had been involved in and talks with Barron and Roos, Warnock said: “Not really – I’m aware of their situation.

“I think Connor was offered a contact.

“But it is up to them, when their contracts are up.

“I’m sure their agents are busy behind the scenes. They usually are.”

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