Aberdeen face a sweat over the fitness of Scott McKenna as the defender was today set to undergo a scan to assess a hamstring injury.
Centre-back McKenna limped off in the second half of the 0-0 Premiership draw with Kilmarnock on Saturday having sustained a tight hamstring.
Scotland internatioal McKenna was side-lined for six weeks earlier this season having suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Rangers in August.
Dons boss Derek McInnes is hopeful this fresh hamstring problem will not be as serious as the one that wiped out the start of the domestic season for the 22-year-old.
However, the Pittodrie gaffer will have to wait on the results of today’s scan for confirmation of how serious McKenna’s injury is.
McInnes said: “Scott has got a bit of tightness in his hamstring.
“He is obviously disappointed and frustrated with that as we are.
“However, I don’t think it is as bad as when Scott had to come off against Rangers here. I imagine Scott would be a doubt for Stenhousemuir and maybe the next couple of games.
“But certainly our first investigation shows it doesn’t seem to be as bad as his previous injury.”
The anticipated absence of McKenna, who was subject to a rejected £7 million from Aston Villa last summer, is a blow, but would have potentially been far more damaging before the Premiership winter break. Last month Aberdeen were in the midst of a centre-back injury crisis with Mikey Devlin, Tommie Hoban and Mark Reynolds all long-term injury absentees.
However, on-loan Watford defender Hoban has returned having undergone shoulder surgery in late August.
He came on as replacement for McKenna for his first game since surgery.
Having been ruled out since late July after knee surgery Reynolds is now fully fit, but will not be risked on Stenhousemuir’s artificial surface at Ochilview.
Centre-back Devlin is also on target to return within the next 10 days from a foot ligament injury. Devlin has been side-lined since sustaining the injury in mid-November while training with the Scotland international squad.
McInnes said: “Fortunately for us we had Tommie Hoban back on the bench. We’d have been stretched if Tommie was not available and up to speed.
“Mark Reynolds will get a game this week to try to get his match fitness. Obviously he is ruled out on the astroturf tomorrow in light of the injury.
“Hopefully we can get through the next couple of games and get some bodies back. And hopefully Scott isn’t too badly injured.”
Aberdeen failed to secure the win that would have leap-frogged McInnes’ side above Kilmarnock into second spot in the Premiership table.
Although the Reds remain just two points behind Killie, valuable ground was lost on leaders Celtic, who now hold a five-point advantage and a game in hand. Killie were reduced to 10 men in the 81st minute when substitute Kris Boyd received a straight red for a challenge on Graeme Shinnie.
McInnes believes a sending off was harsh on the striker.
He said: “My first thought was that it was a yellow card.
“I think Kris caught Shinnie and there was a bit of speed going into it.”
Despite the man advantage late on, the Reds could not engineer a breakthrough against Killie, who failed to register a single shot at goal.
McInnes admits frustration, despite the Dons’ attacking talent. He said: “By and large it was quite a frustrating, stop start, very competitive game as both sets of players put everything into it.
“Kilmarnock came with a game plan and I think their intention was to come up, get a clean sheet and a point. We tried to be as positive as we could with the attacking players we have played recently.
“It was the type of game we maybe anticipated, but we had to do more with the onus on us being the home team.
“However, in these types of games we look for that little bit of brilliance in one versus one play. For wider players to go past people, it was a combination of that not being quite there and Kilmarnock defending very well.
“Kilmarnock are a good side and are up there for a reason. Unfortunately no matter how much we threw at it we couldn’t get the goal.
“We had an attacking shape and enough attacking players on the team. Even with the substitutes we tried to be as positive as we could.
“Kilmarnock were good enough and experienced enough to get the clean sheet that I’m sure they came for.”
The Rugby Park side arrived at Pittodrie on a high having defeated Rangers 2-1 on Wednesday to replace them in second spot.
McInnes added: “We nullified their counter-attacking threat. We had watched Kilmarnock often enough and they can be very compact within their shape and can break quickly and hurt you.
“I thought we dealt with that and the concentration in the team was good. I cannot remember Kilmarnock being in our box too often.
“It is another clean sheet and a point but the onus was on us to create more.”