Craig Bryson busts a gut to get Europa League ready

Craig Bryson
Craig Bryson

Summer signing Craig Bryson has been busting a gut in recent days in a bid to get match fit to face RoPS Rovaniemi.

The 32-year-old midfielder returned to full training last week having been ruled out since April with an ankle ligament suffered at former club Derby.

Bryson was set to make his delayed debut and get 20 minutes in the 1-1 friendly draw with Inverness Caley Thistle in Elgin on Saturday.

However, the condition of the Borough Briggs pitch was so poor manager Derek McInnes opted not to risk the Scotland international.

After losing out on that game time, Bryson has been working hard to ensure he wins the battle to be ready for the Europa League tie on Thursday.

Midfielder Stephen Gleeson is ruled out for another three weeks, having recently undergone knee surgery.

McInnes said: “It (not playing against Inverness) does not mean to say that Bryson will not be fit for Thursday.

“It was important to get 20 minutes into him against Inverness, but I decided against that due to the pitch.

“However, we got some work into him over the weekend, as we are just trying to top up that fitness.

“His ankle has actually been very good.”

McInnes also opted not to take any risks with last season’s leading goal-scorer Sam Cosgrove and summer signing Ryan Hedges.

Cosgrove and Hedges both sat out the friendly against Inverness, having sustained minor knocks in the 2-0 friendly defeat of Peterhead.

Both are set to be good to go in the first qualifying round first leg against RoPS at Pittodrie.

McInnes said: “We had a couple of knocks going into the Inverness game.

“Hedges had a little twinge in his knee but could have played.

“Cosgrove’s groin was a wee bit tight, so although they travelled up to Elgin, we didn’t take any risks.”

McInnes is still working on securing a midfielder before tomorrow’s deadline to register players for the Europa League first qualifying round.

The initial registration deadline was 11pm on Friday, but the Dons did not secure a midfielder before that expired.

There still remains, however, the scope to register two new signings as “wildcard” additions by 11pm on Wednesday.

Clubs were required to register a List A of a 25-player maximum squad by Friday for the first qualifying round.

However, two new eligible players, the “wildcards”, can be registered by 11pm on Wednesday provided the quota of eight locally trained players is respected.

If the registration of a wildcard causes the number of players on List A to exceed 25, the club must remove a currently registered player to reduce the squad to 25 players again.

Aberdeen have resurrected their interest in Sunderland midfielder Dylan McGeouch.

The Scotland cap recently signed a one-year contract extension at the Stadium of Light, but Sunderland boss Jack Ross has to offload players to free up funds for signings.

Asked if he could sign someone before that UEFA wildcard deadline, McInnes said: “Who knows?

“I would clearly like to bring a midfielder in, as it is one area of the team were are still short in.

“We will see how that goes.”

Aberdeen called time on their pre-season preparation for the Europa League with the draw against Championship Inverness.

Despite insisting results are secondary in friendlies, the Dons boss was still frustrated at the loss of a goal to a set-piece from a corner.

He knows that must be eradicated when facing RoPS with the away goal so important in Europe.

McInnes said: “It is pre-season and you don’t want to get caught up in results.

“However, I wanted to win the game and I wanted to get a third clean sheet in three games.

“We very rarely come up against a team as big as Inverness, as they are huge.

“As big as Inverness are, I don’t expect us to be losing set-plays with the size we have got in the team.

“I was disappointed because we should win that first touch.

“We didn’t get that first touch and were caught flat-footed at the back post.

“It is a reminder that there is still work to be done and to sharpen up.”

Meanwhile, attacker Frank Ross has joined Championship side Ayr United on a loan deal until January. The 21-year-old has made 14 appearances and scored once for the Dons, he had a loan spell at Morton during the 2017-18 season.