Teenage midfielder Dean Campbell was today urged to make the most of any chance that comes due to an injury crisis.
Aberdeen’s midfield has been decimated by three long-term injury set-backs in recent weeks.
Funso Ojo, the £125,000 summer signing from Scunthorpe, is ruled out for three months with a significant hamstring tear.
Fellow summer arrival Craig Bryson will also be sidelined for a month with an ankle injury.
Both injuries were sustained in the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone and came just days after confirmation Scott Wright was out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury.
Midfielder Stephen Gleeson has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery in pre-season.
Despite the injury problems McInnes has confirmed he will not raid the free-agent market to secure emergency cover in midfield.
The onus will fall on 18-year-old Aberdonian Campbell to move into the central midfield partnership alongside Lewis Ferguson for tomorrow’s league trip to Livingston.
McInnes said: “It is an opportunity for Dean, there is no doubt about that.
“Dean and Lewis Ferguson are the two recognised central midfield players.
“Dean will give us balance in there as he is left-footed and handles the ball well.
“He did very well in the game against Dundee (2-1 League Cup extra-time win) when he came on.
“Since then Dean has been injured although he was available for last week.
“It is good that Dean is now available. He trained twice last week and we could have done with him on the bench last week.”
Despite his youth Campbell has a track record for rising to the occasion when McInnes turns to him in big “must win” games.
He made his first-team debut in the final game of the 2017-18 season at Parkhead.
It was a game where Aberdeen had to beat league champions Celtic to secure a second-placed finish in the Premiership.
Campbell came on with 25 minutes remaining and played a pivotal role in securing a 1-0 win.
Last season he was pitched in from the start in the Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Rangers at Ibrox. Again the teen rose to the challenge with a strong shift as the Dons triumphed 2-0.
Campbell also started against RoPS Rovaniemi in Finland in the Europa League this season – with Aberdeen winning 2-1.
McInnes said: “In times like this, in adversity, you have to deal with problem solving and maybe give an opportunity to others.
“Injuries are something we all want to avoid, particularly when you have a tight squad.
“However, it is about how you deal with it. It is easy when things are going well but when things are not going well it is sometimes the test of a team.”
Aberdeen’s injury problems are not isolated to the middle of the park as centre-backs Scott McKenna and Ash Taylor are also out with hamstring injuries.
McInnes admits it is the worst injury crisis he has experienced in his six years at the club.
He said: “Last season was the worst we had with injuries and this one is up there again.
“We had 13 training on Thursday but we still have some good players available here and it is just finding that right blend.
“We are really stretched in certain areas. Bryson and Ojo were brought in to have a big influence. Ojo has had that.
“Bryson has been working hard to give us that influence.
“We had that in the first half against St Johnstone but then we lost that in the second half.
“We have been a better team when Bryson has been in it although we have still shown good levels of performances when he has not been in it.”
Due to the injury problems McInnes admits he may have to reassess how Aberdeen set up.
However, he is confident players like Campbell can step up and make a positive impact.
He said: “We still have some very good players available although we may have to look at how we play and finding solutions to still getting those winning performances.”