Summer signing Stephen Gleeson’s substitute appearance against West Brom was a Euro boost boss Derek McInnes feared Aberdeen would be denied.
The Republic of Ireland international midfielder had been sidelined with a knee injury sustained during the pre-season friendly at St Johnstone.
The Reds endured a nervous wait for the results as Gleeson underwent a scan on his badly bruised knee following the contact injury in Perth.
McInnes admits there were concerns the injury would rule the 29-year-old out of the Europa League second qualifying round first leg clash with Burnley on Thursday.
After 18 minutes of action in the 1-1 friendly draw against West Brom, followed by a training session less than 24 hours later, Gleeson is winning his battle to be fit to start against Burnley on Thursday.
McInnes said: “It was great to have Stephen back because at one point we weren’t sure that was going to be the case.
“The injury Stephen picked up against St Johnstone was unfortunate.
“However, contact injuries happen in pre-season.
“Stephen had a very good session on Saturday morning after the game as well which again took him a step forward.”
Brought in on a two-year contract as a free agent having left Championship Ipswich Town at the end of last season combative midfielder Gleeson is one of four summer signings so far introduced by McInnes.
Fellow Dubliner and midfielder Chris Forrester was signed in a £200,000 transfer from Peterborough United until summer 2021.
Hamilton midfielder Lewis Ferguson was also secured with the training compensation payment due set to be decided by an SPFL tribunal next month. Rotherham’s Dominic Ball also rejoined on a season-long loan deal last week.
Versatile defender-midfielder Ball was on loan at Pittodrie last season.
McInnes is confident all the new additions can have a strong impact, starting against Burnley on Thursday.
He said: “Stephen has been a welcome addition and he showed when he came on (v West Brom), as did others, the type of player he is going to be for us.
“We got a wee flavour of the players we have brought in against West Brom and I was delighted with their contribution.”
The return of Gleeson is not the only boost ahead of the Battle of Britain with first team regulars Niall McGinn and Andy Considine also set to return from injury in the build-up to the European tie.
McGinn and Considine both missed the friendly draw with West Brom.
Northern Ireland international winger McGinn has a thigh strain while left-back Considine was ruled out with concussion suffered in the collision with Cove Rangers’ Jordon Brown.
That incident resulted in the game being abandoned following on-pitch treatment to Brown who was later taken to hospital. Thankfully, Brown is on the mend.
McInnes said: “Hopefully Considine and McGinn will do some training today and will be back involved with the squad which will be a bonus for us.”
However, the Reds look set to be without centre-back Mark Reynolds.
He sustained a knee injury in the game with Cove and the Reds were today set to discover the severity of the problem.
McInnes said: “Mark went to see a specialist for a follow up to the scan. Things should be a lot clearer but the likelihood is he will probably go in for a scope in Glasgow today just to get to the bottom of it.
“That is where it stands just now.”
The expected return of McGinn and Considine, coupled with the return of Gleeson, is a huge boost to McInnes who can ill afford injury setbacks due to the limited numbers in his squad.
At the end of last season 11 players exited Pittodrie and just four have been signed.
McInnes hopes to add new signings in time to bolster his squad for Burnley with the UEFA deadline for registering new players closing at 7.45pm tomorrow night.
“We are constantly trying to make things happen,” he said.
“We are working round the clock to try to bring in the type of players we want.
“Sometimes with the Burnley game and the nature of it everything has been accelerated and there is more spotlight on the need for recruitment.
“It is important that we do try to make good additions because the squad is light.
“A club like Aberdeen have to have that strength in squad.”
Before a ball has even been kicked in Euro competition it was confirmed that the Dons and Burnley will battle for the right to face Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir in the third qualifying round.
The winners of Dons v Burnley were seeded for the draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, yesterday and will face the side who finished third in the Turkish Super League.
However, it is very much all eyes on the prize for McInnes and his squad as the sole focus will be on Burnley.
He said: “We are up against a top side in Burnley and we are looking forward to that.
“It will be a brilliant game and we are looking forward to putting ourselves out there against a very good side.
“I was really encouraged by the performance on Friday as you can see the fitness and familiarity bedding in there with the players.”