Derek McInnes bemoaned his worst season for injuries as Aberdeen boss as he announced another casualty ahead of the trip to Ibrox on Sunday.
Skipper Graeme Shinnie is facing a fight to be back before the end of the season after picking up an ankle injury in last week’s 1-0 Ladbrokes Premiership win against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
The midfielder joins Niall McGinn (ankle), Gary Mackay-Steven (calf), Greg Stewart (sciatica) and Tommie Hoban (knee) on the sidelines and although Shay Logan has returned to training following an ankle problem, the game against Rangers comes too soon.
McInnes told REDTV: “First of all we got him (Shinnie) X-rayed and there was no concern there, he has been scanned and there is ligament damage and the feeling is he will be out for four to six weeks, which obviously means there is a chance he could be out for the rest of the season.
“But there has been improvement in the last couple of days and Graeme is of the mind-set that it is not going to be the case.
“Typical of him, he is positive that he can be back, hopefully back for the Hibs game, the last game of the season, and we can get him back in the team.
“It is a blow, we are pretty stretched with injuries at the minute and without some key players.
“We have Lewis (Ferguson) back (from suspension) but Shinnie is unavailable and won’t travel and on top of the other injuries, in the wider areas and the creative side of it, with Gary, Niall and Greg out, it leaves us a bit short and an emphasis to lean on a lot of the younger ones again.
“We have been very good over the years and maybe fortunate.
“It is a contact sport and you have to deal with these sorts of things but this year in particular, we have so much more to contend with and it hasn’t helped matters.”
Aberdeen are eight points behind second-placed Rangers, whom they have beaten three times this season.
McInnes refused to address the claim of Rangers boss Steven Gerrard that the Dons lift themselves more against the Light Blues than they do against other opponent, saying: “I am not going to comment on that.”
However, the former Rangers midfielder is going for another victory.
McInnes said: “The intention is to win the game. Any time we play Rangers home or away you would have to say they would be favourites.
“They have the luxury of a huge squad, a fantastic squad to choose from and they always seem to be in good form when we play them which is probably testament to the work which is being done there.
“We are well aware of the strengths of Rangers and we have to go down there and be as competitive as we have been and hopefully have a similar outcome.”