Dons legend Willie Miller today said he can understand why Kari Arnason has barely featured this season – but insists he has a big part to play over the whole campaign.
Fans’ favourite Arnason returned to Aberdeen in the summer but has made just one start and one sub appearance so far this term.
The centre-back suffered a back spasm while on international duty with Iceland but should be available for Saturday’s game against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie.
While former Reds captain Miller, pictured, is surprised Arnason hasn’t played more, he can understand why.
The Pittodrie icon said: “I think most people would be surprised that he hasn’t had the opportunity to feature. He didn’t have a great game in the start he did have.
“His use of the ball, which is usually very good, wasn’t the best.
“I can understand why fans and people looking in would be surprised he hasn’t played more.
“The manager has brought in Dominic Ball, he has Mark Reynolds, Anthony O’Connor and Andy Considine at centre-back as well as Arnason.
“It’s a lot to choose from and you can’t play them all, so it depends on who are on form.
“I always feel with centre-backs you are trying to build partnerships and form an understanding so you don’t want to be chopping and changing.
“You want a settled backline so the understanding is there.
“The squad are very strong so that is part of the reason why he hasn’t featured. And Derek McInnes will know exactly his fitness levels. He can see him in training and understand where he is at mentally as well.
“It’s not just a straightforward ‘why is Kari Arnason not playing?’ The fitness levels and also the mental level of the player are factors.
“If he has been involved in internationals you have to take that and the travelling involved into account.
“There are a lot of factors that feed into the manager’s end result.”
But Miller, who lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup as Aberdeen skipper, does believe Arnason, 34, has an important role to play this season.
He added: “I think he’s too good a player to be ignored and I think he will feature. I would be surprised if he goes through the season and doesn’t play much.
“O’Connor and Reynolds are quick but not overly physical and you have Ball who is quite physical. Arnason at this stage of his career maybe isn’t the quickest but he gives you that calmness and his use of the ball is good.
“The manager has options but it’s just about getting the right blend from what he has to choose from and maybe at this moment he hasn’t decided yet.
“So it’s hard to say whether the defence is better with Arnason in it right now, it’s a trial.”