Boss Derek McInnes today blasted the Dons’ December schedule as “unfair” and insists it took a toll with injuries.
Aberdeen beat Livingston 2-1 to call time on a congested run of nine games packed into just 27 days.
McInnes hailed his players for coming through that run to sit just three points off the top of the Premiership.
It came at a price as McInnes reckons the packed card has lent to injuries to Shay Logan, Bruce Anderson, Niall McGinn and Max Lowe.
Right-back Logan suffered a hamstring injury at Livi and striker Anderson tore a calf muscle that will rule him out for two months.
McGinn and Lowe suffered groin injuries in recent games and McInnes reckons all four injuries are due to fatigue from the schedule.
McInnes said much had been made about the Old Firm’s schedule – but insists it was tougher for his smaller squad, which was stretched to breaking point.
He said: “I had been concerned about the nine games in December.
“We had a cup final and then eight league games in 24 days.
“It is really unfair on everybody at the club.
“Everyone is talking about how Celtic and Rangers’ squads have been stretched recently in the month of December.
“Rangers had eight games and Celtic nine games.
“However, we have had nine games and had to try to deal with that when we don’t have the numbers that Celtic and Rangers have.
“I do think the scheduling was pretty harsh on us to be honest.
“They (the SPFL) could easily have pushed one of those games back to January.”
Aberdeen had reached an informal agreement with Dundee to play their game in hand after the January winter break.
However, the SPFL rejected that request and forced the Dons to face the Dark Blues in December – a midweek game they won 5-1.
McInnes reckons packing nine matches into less than a month has taken its toll.
As well as the injuries suffered by Logan and Anderson at Livi this weekend, McGinn sustained a groin injury in the 4-3 loss to Celtic on Boxing Day. McGinn is expected to be fit for the Dons’ warm weather training camp in Dubai which starts on January 8.
On loan Derby left-back Lowe pulled up with a groin injury in the 2-0 defeat of Hearts. Lowe missed the games against Celtic and Livi and has now returned to his parent club as his loan deal has expired.
McInnes said: “That is injuries now to Logan, McGinn, Anderson and Lowe and it is just down to the scheduling. That is all it is.
“It is the fatigue and players are more susceptible to injures.
“These injuries are muscle injuries and just a consequence of the schedule we have had. This is the fall out from the scheduling, it is nothing more than that.
“We put a lot into the game on Wednesday against Celtic and we almost got some sort of result against them. After that I was delighted with the players’ response against Livingston. They had to pick themselves up and saw the importance of three points.”
McInnes has confirmed Anderson’s injury absence could force him to move to sign a striker in the January transfer window which opens tomorrow.
He said: “Bruce tore his calf.
“I think young Bruce now being out for a couple of months may force us to try to do something in that area.”
On loan Manchester United striker James Wilson came off the bench at Livingston to score the opener and set up the second.
McInnes said: “Livingston are a team who have been used to winning for a considerable amount of time, especially at home.
“This season good teams have rolled up there and came away with nothing or very little for their efforts.
“My players dug deep. Livingston always test your resolve and determination to keep doing the dirty side of the game.
“To match runs, win headers, stand up when they apply pressure.
“They have overcome teams when teams haven’t stood up to that determination.
“We stood up to it and got our just rewards and those moments of quality to separate the teams.”