Aberdeen boss McInnes wants to ‘damage’ Rangers’ Premiership title hopes

Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven, centre, celebrates his goal with Stevie May, right, and Graeme Shinnie.
Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven, centre, celebrates his goal with Stevie May, right, and Graeme Shinnie.

Boss Derek McInnes today challenged the Dons to “damage” Rangers’ Premiership bid.

And McInnes is confident of having star striker Sam Cosgrove and keeper Joe Lewis available to do that.

Aberdeen host Rangers on Wednesday knowing a victory will jump them above the Ibrox side into second spot. Prolific scorer Cosgrove and No.1 stopper Lewis were both taken off injured in the 2-1 win over Hibs.

Cosgrove, who has netted 10 goals in the previous 10 games, suffered a back spasm.

Lewis sustained a gash above his left eye when colliding with a post, but it is understood there was no concussion.

McInnes said: “When you play teams in and around you at any stage in the season and in particular when there are 14 games to go, there is a benefit to it.

“It is an opportunity to do a bit of damage to teams in and around you.

“Rangers will be seeing it exactly the same.

“The two league games, Rangers and Hibs, we have prior to the Scottish Cup tie could both prove pivotal.

“We have spoken often enough about just knuckling down and trying to win key games between now and the business end of the season.

“Obviously, Rangers have made reinforcements and have such a strong squad and some good players.

“We will need to make sure we deliver a performance that gives us a chance to win all three points because the intention to win all three points will be there.”

McInnes is hopeful both Cosgrove and Lewis will be fit to start against Rangers in the battle to move up to second.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes on the touchline.

He hopes some “TLC” in the build-up to Wednesday’s clash can secure the go-ahead for top scorer Cosgrove.

The striker was replaced after just 18 minutes at Easter Road with a back spasm.

Lewis was taken off late in the first half and required stitches following the collision while diving to save a free-kick.

McInnes said: “I am hoping for both. Joe has a nasty gash above his eye but he is absolutely fine.

“The medical staff felt he was going to have to get that stitched and it was going to take a long time.

“Obviously it is not ideal but Joe seems eager to play and we will see how he is.

“I think Sam’s has been the consequence of training on the hard pitches with the weather.

“We have been indoor a lot training. Maybe even the other night on Astroturf at Stenhousemuir.

“His back just went into a spasm. He felt it a bit on Thursday but hopefully it will be something we can work on and deal with.

“Hopefully it can disappear as quickly as it came.

“Sam certainly feels positive about Wednesday but we will see where everybody is.

“Sam needs a bit of TLC and a lot of things to go his way to be ready for Wednesday.

“Joe seems fine in himself and I don’t think there was anything sinister going on.

“We should be experts at concussions now with the amount of those injuries we have had. But I think this was a bit different.

“I am hoping Joe will be fine for the game.”

McInnes confirmed the Rangers game could come too soon for injured centre-backs Scott McKenna and Mikey Devlin.

Scotland international McKenna has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury suffered in the 0-0 draw with Kilmarnock.

Devlin has been out since mid-November with a foot tendon injury.

McInnes said: “As it stands McKenna and Devlin are probably going to be a week to 10 days away. We have a few boys at the minute patched up, not quite at full tilt. Because we had a midweek game we have not really had the chance to get on top of those.

“It is important we see who is fully fit ready to go into the game on Wednesday.”