Boss Derek McInnes insists Aberdeen are “angry” at a slump in form that saw them toppled off third spot in the Premiership.
He has demanded an immediate response by delivering a win at Hibs today that would see the Reds reclaim third.
After just two wins in nine games, with no goals in the last three, the heat is on McInnes and the Dons to deliver at Easter Road.
McInnes will have to achieve that much-needed victory without the services of attacker Ryan Hedges, who is set to be ruled out for the rest of the season with a pectoral muscle tear suffered in the 2-0 loss to Livingston.
In another blow, loan striker Florian Kamberi is not available to make his Aberdeen debut at Hibs.
The Dons lost their race to get Kamberi’s work permit cleared in time and the 25-year-old St Gallen striker is still in Switzerland.
Kamberi is set to arrive at Pittodrie by Wednesday at the very latest.
With 12 games Premiership matches remaining this season, McInnes insists the race for Europe starts now.
McInnes said: “We are angry with ourselves.
“On Wednesday, we had a meeting with those who played and went through the goals and the manner of some of the play in the first half.
“From a player’s point of view, they are annoyed with themselves for gifting goals.
“We have been on a difficult run, there is no doubt about that.
“We are keen to make amends at Hibs.
“It is the business end of the season.
“The way I look at it, everything that has happened up to now, it really is immaterial.
“We have 12 games remaining – it is a 12-game season now for us in terms of the league.
“We have to deal with that and that starts against a Hibs team we know we can beat.
“A win today and we go third still with a game in hand.
“There has to be that approach to it from myself and the players to try to be as positive as we can and not dwell on Tuesday’s result against Livingston.
“To try to be as positive and focused as we can until the end of the season.”
McInnes relaxed under pressure
McInnes has come under increasing pressure from disaffected supporters during the run of poor results.
He insists it is a situation he is relaxed about as it comes with the territory at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “When you go into a job as a manager, you have got to deal with pressure.
“I have felt pressure since day one here.
“The more you do, the more that increases.
“I am fine with it; I am relaxed about it.
“Our intention is to get three points that allow us to get back to third and, if that isn’t good enough for some, then so be it.
“We are going through a difficult stage at the moment.
“However, any time as a player and as a manger that you go through a sticky spell, it is so important that we all stick together and work for the same goal and that is what we are looking to do.
“A win will help matters and we will go third and we move on and deal with the rest of the fixtures when they come.”
Major injury blow for Ryan Hedges
Aberdeen suffered a major blow ahead of today’s third-place scrap in Edinburgh with confirmation Hedges, one of the key creative players this season, is out for the campaign.
Hedges’ injury set-back came less than 24 hours after Scott Wright completed his transfer deadline-day move to rivals Rangers.
Hedges has got a significant injury.
“We feared the worst after the game.
“He has ruptured his pectoral muscle off the bone, which is very unusual in football, although you can see it in rugby.”
Wright had already agreed a pre-contract to join the Ibrox club in the summer.
However, Rangers pushed through a deal to take him to Glasgow this month.
Aberdeen have now lost two of their most creative players this week in Hedges and Wright – far from ideal when the goals have dried up.
McInnes said: “Hedges has got a significant injury.
“We feared the worst after the game.
“He has ruptured his pectoral muscle off the bone, which is very unusual in football, although you can see it in rugby.
“Effectively it has ripped off and he is due to get an operation on Friday.
“The likelihood is he will be out for the season, which is a real blow for Ryan as he has been in good form and has had a good campaign.
“It is a blow for us to contend with in terms of that creativity in losing Ryan and Scott Wright in a matter of days.
“We need to deal with that, but I am really gutted for Ryan himself.”
The manager today confirmed in his press conference that Ryan Hedges will likely miss the remainder of the season due to the injury sustained on Tuesday night.
Full coverage from the press conference to follow. pic.twitter.com/5QtgP9hsHe
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) February 5, 2021
Aberdeen lose race to get Florian Kamberi in to face Hibs
A second blow for today’s must-win clash came with confirmation the work permit for loan striker Kamberi has not cleared in time for him to face Hibs.
Kamberi is still in Switzerland, but will be at Pittodrie on Wednesday at the very latest.
McInnes said: “As it stands the latest we will get him into the country and get the whole thing processed will be February 10, which is Wednesday.
“We had been trying to get a lot of things fast-tracked, but the Covid situation has meant we have been up against that.
“In the past we have been able to get these things done a little bit quicker.
“We have leaned on everyone we can to try to influence this and try to get it pushed through a bit quicker.
“Unfortunately that is not for Hibs.
“He may well travel over the weekend and we are still waiting on some light on that.
“But he cannot travel until he has got his actual visa to work.
“That is obviously disappointing.”
McInnes admits there was a gamble associated with having Kamberi available to face Hibs.
The 25-year-old was secured on transfer deadline day on a loan deal until the end of the season.
Strikers Fraser Hornby (Stade de Reims) and Callum Hendry (St Johnstone) also arrived on deadline day loans until the summer.
Hornby started in the 2-0 loss to Livingston and Hendry came on as a second half substitute.
McInnes said: “It was a long shot and we knew that when we signed him (Kamberi).
“Obviously we took three loans in and there is an element of risk with that because boys have not played.
“Kamberi was slightly risk attached to that because we were trying to get him in as quickly as possible.
“But hopefully it will all go through.
“The registration stuff is all fine, so hopefully it will go through in time for next week’s game (St Mirren at Pittodrie on Saturday).”
Defender Ash Taylor is a major doubt for today’s clash with a thigh problem.
However, if the centre-half fails his fitness test for Easter Road, manager McInnes is confident he will recover to face St Mirren at Pittodrie next Saturday.
He said: “Ash is struggling for Hibs.
“If he misses Hibs, we expect him to be fit for the other game.”