Aberdeen's selection roulette needs Qarabag triumph to mitigate it as Scott Brown dissects Pittodrie situation

When asked by the press at full time whether he regretted making seven changes to his starting XI for the Premier Sports Cup tie against Raith Rovers, Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass said the team he selected should have won the match regardless.

Aberdeen's players trudge off the Stark's Park pitch after losing 2-1 to Raith and exiting the Premier Sports Cup.

On paper, he is absolutely right, as while the pack was shuffled, with the Dons one tie away from European group football, players such as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Niall McGinn, Funso Ojo and Connor McLennan ought to have enough about them to take care of a Championship outfit.

The fact Aberdeen blew a lead to lose 2-1 and crash out of the tournament at the second-round stage shines an unwelcome spotlight on Glass’ line-up. Predecessor Derek McInnes made a habit of making the business end of domestic competitions and Glass, who took over in the spring, also has a 3-0 Scottish Cup defeat at to Dundee United on his copybook that enraged the Pittodrie support. Aberdeen’s fans crave silverware.

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However, they also crave tangible progress in Europe – something McInnes could not deliver – and Azeri outfit Qarabag stand in the way of a spot in the Europa Conference League group stages. Glass clearly had one eye on Thursday’s first leg when he picked the team for Raith, while mindful that youngsters such as Calvin Ramsay and Jack MacKenzie had played a lot of football recently. A positive result in Azerbaijan would mitigate Sunday's defeat to a degree.

Glass wheeled out his big guns once Raith when ahead. Scott Brown, Christian Ramirez, Lewis Ferguson and Ryan Hedges all came on to try and rescue the situation, but even that backfired. Hedges picked up an injury and left on crutches. He is a major doubt for the Qarabag match.

Captain Brown left reporters in little doubt of the regret within the Aberdeen dressing-room. "It was a disappointing performance and it's brought us back down to earth,” he said. “We've done really well in the last few weeks so now we are going to see how the lads react to this now because we have a huge game coming on Thursday night.

"We've got to look forward to it and try and get ourselves up for it. But the level of performance wasn't us. We need more throughout the team, including the subs who came on too.

"It's not that the bigger players were out. Everyone is fighting for their place and the manager decided to rest a couple and brought a couple of players in. That's what a squad is all about.

"We need to help each other and not throw anyone under the bus. We need to take responsibility because there were 16 players there and we have to take responsibility throughout the whole squad."

While despondent, there's rightly no panic from Brown. “It's one game, it's not a turnaround," he added. "It can happen in football. It's about bouncebackability, that's what football is all about.

"We've now got a huge game coming up on Thursday night and it could put us in a great place if we go there and get a good result.

"We need to focus on Thursday night. I know it's a hard one to take and we will go over this defeat and figure out how we are going to go forward.”

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