Derek McInnes believes the 300 Aberdeen season ticket holders who are being permitted to watch their team in person against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie tomorrow will be able to make their presence felt.
The test event has survived despite fears First Minister Nicola Sturgeon might forbid it taking place due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases across the country.
Some have questioned whether there is any point allowing access to such a small number of fans in a stadium that can accommodate nearly 20,000 people. The Aberdeen manager is confident the mere sight of supporters – who have been made aware of the rules, including no singing and no shouting – can help spur on his players.
“I think it helps matters, definitely,” said McInnes. “Getting 300 fans in is a step in the right direction. I think it’s a reward for the supporters to be allowed in.
“I think that actually having supporters visibly there, although sparsely, the players will be aware of that. It can help, without a shadow of a doubt. Hopefully those numbers will start to increase as we go along.”
The small band of socially distanced supporters will hope to see Aberdeen clinch a fifth successive victory. Aberdeen have only conceded one goal since they lost 1-0 to Rangers on the opening day of the season.
The Pittodrie side have recovered well after a problematic start to the campaign. On top of losing meekly to the Ibrox side, eight of Aberdeen’s first-team squad had to self-isolate for as long as 14 days due to Covid-19 guideline breaches.
“The international break probably came at the wrong time for us but I am hoping we can pick up where we left off,” said McInnes. “The players are getting more strength in their legs, getting more game ready and getting more rhythm in their play.
“We have more options – certainly more than we had in the first couple of games.”
McInnes revealed that Ryan Edmondson, the on-loan Leeds United forward who injured his ankle in training after making only one appearance, in the defeat by Rangers, will return to Pittodrie next week after receiving treatment down south. He could return within a fortnight, while last season’s top goalscorer Sam Cosgrove, still to feature this season after fracturing a cartilage in his knee, is also due back earlier than expected. McInnes hopes the striker can target a return to the side following the next international break next month.
Meanwhile, McInnes detailed the logistical difficulties facing Aberdeen ahead of next week’s trip to face Norwegian side Viking Stavanger in the Europa League second qualifying round.
The players will be tested for Covid-19 as soon as they arrive on the day before the game before waiting overnight to receive the results. The samples need to be flown to Oslo from Stavanger.
“We’ve been given permission to train without getting the test results back,” he explained. “And we’re being guaranteed that the test results will be back no later than lunchtime on match day.
“So obviously there’s still an element of risk, in terms of your preparation.
“Even if we’d flown out on the Tuesday night, which we’d considered, there would have been added expense because the plane stays on the tarmac, the crew stay and the team have an extra night in the hotel.
“We still wouldn’t have got the tests results back, probably, until the Thursday morning anyway. So we’ve decided to go out early Wednesday and we’ve been told we can train on the Wednesday night as normal. Then we just have to get the test results.
“The tests actually get flown to Oslo, so there’s still a wee element of risk there if flights are delayed. But the guarantee is we’ll have it by lunchtime on match day.”
McInnes revealed he will take a squad of 22 players to Norway. “Hopefully that covers us,” he said. “If we have any positive tests, hopefully we’ll still have enough of a squad to take that game.”
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