No goals against Nomads but boss McInnes says Dons’ sharpness will come

Aberdeen's Curtis Main in actions against Connah's Quay Nomads
Aberdeen's Curtis Main in actions against Connah's Quay Nomads

Boss Derek McInnes insisted there is no panic about the Dons failing to score against semi-pro minnows Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Aberdeen were held to a 0-0 draw by the Welsh outfit in a friendly in Cork as the build up to European action steps up.

In just 10 days Aberdeen will face RoPS Rovaniemi in the Europa League first qualifying round first leg at Pittodrie.

McInnes accepts the Dons’ must be better in attack but is confident they will find that cutting edge in time to face the Finns.

In a major Euro boost Dons trio Craig Bryson, Niall McGinn and Connor McLennan, who all missed the friendly in Cork, are winning the battle to be fit to face RoPS.

McInnes said: “In that final third is where we need to be better as a team in terms of better quality of crosses, more penetration and working the goalkeeper more.

“That will come. That is always the last bit that comes.

“The fitness levels and being able to stop teams and keep the ball away from the goal is normally the easy part of pre season.

“The toughest part is getting that sharpness into the players.

“We cannot expect them to be where we want them to be at this stage in the first game.

“The work during the week in Cork had been tough on the players so I was not expecting the sharpness or speed of play.

“It was the first game of pre-season and the first game for some since they signed for the club and the intention is to improve as we go along.

“We were certainly safe enough in the middle of the park and all our defenders were absolutely fine in the game as we were pretty secure.”

Summer signing Bryson sat out the friendly against Connah’s Quay Nomads as he is battling back from an ankle ligament injury sustained in April with Derby County.

Wingers McGinn and McLennan were also sidelined for the clash at Fota Island Resort.

McGinn is recovering from surgery to ankle ligament damage towards the end of last season while McLennan underwent a procedure on a knee in the summer.

McInnes confirmed they could all feature in Saturday’s friendly with Inverness Caley Thistle in Elgin.

That is the final pre-season friendly before Aberdeen face the Finns in the Europa League first qualifying round first leg on July 11.

He said: “Bryson, McGinn and McLennan will be more involved, hopefully for the Inverness game at the weekend.

“We are hoping we can get the three of them back.”

Striker Stevie May missed the friendly with Connah’s Quay Nomads as he was suffering from a virus.

McInnes said: “Stevie May should be back at Peterhead on Wednesday.”

Despite the positive news with Bryson’s rehabilitation, McInnes is still on the hunt to sign a midfielder before the Uefa deadline to register players on July 5.

McInnes has resurrected his interest in Sunderland midfielder Dylan McGeouch.

Sunderland’s players are due to report back to the Stadium of Light tomorrow for the start of pre-season.

McInnes tried to land McGeouch last summer when he left Hibs but he chose to go to Sunderland in League One.

McGeouch exercised an option to extend his Sunderland deal for another year, however manager Jack Ross has been told he needs to slash his wage budget.

Boss McInnes has also tabled an offer to former Manchester United striker James Wilson, who was on loan at Pittodrie last season.

Wilson is a free agent having left Old Trafford this summer and McInnes wants to sign him on a permanent deal.

The striker would have to take a large reduction in the wages he was used to at Manchester United if he was to sign on.

Wilson is also on the radar of Preston, Sunderland and a number of MLS clubs in America.

McInnes said: “We are still hoping to add to the squad before we register players.”

Five new signings made their Dons debuts against Connah’s Quay Nomads – Ryan Hedges, Greg Leigh, Ash Taylor, Curtis Main and Jon Gallagher.

The Welsh side played defensively in preparation of their Europa League clash with Kilmarnock.

Connah’s Quay Nomads defended deep in the friendly but McInnes knew that was the tactics they would adopt.

It could be similar to the tactics RoPS will utilise at Pittodrie in the first leg.

McInnes said: “Andy Morrison (Connah’s Quay Nomads manager) told me before the game they wanted to play a certain way and I am fine with that.

“The onus was on us to break them down and they were organised, compact and had a good physical presence about them which kept us on our toes.

“It was not like what we normally get in the Premiership.

“Normally Premiership teams are closer to each other and take you on.

“We came through the game without any injuries and can take the positives from a clean sheet but we’re looking for those improvements in the final third as we go through the friendly games.”