Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes admits he will have to patch up a decimated squad on Saturday to keep the Betfred Cup bid alive against St Mirren.
Seven first-team regulars were missing as the Dons slumped to a 1-1 draw at Premiership bottom side Hamilton.
There is no respite as Aberdeen gaffer McInnes confirmed none of the sidelined seven will return for Saturday’s Betfred Cup tie at St Mirren.
McInnes admits a lack of game time with their replacements is a concern ahead of a third away clash in six days.
Five of the side that started against Hamilton have made fewer than five starts this season.
McInnes said: “For the cup game we just need to try to patch these boys up again.
“We are just trying to navigate the situation at the minute.
“A lot of those boys haven’t been first pick this season.
“Because of their lack of game time, there is a concern that they can get through with that intensity required to get wins against Premiership opposition.
“However, they are certainly giving it a right good go.
“It will be three games in six days for a lot of boys who have not had a lot of football of late.
“Hopefully they will be better for having had the recent games .
“We have a cup game to try to get through on Saturday.”
Who will miss St Mirren and Aberdeen’s Betfred Cup clash in Paisley, according to McInnes?
Aberdeen boss McInnes will be without the injured Jonny Hayes, Dylan McGeouch, Scott Wright and on-loan Bristol City attacker Marley Watkins for the last-16 tie with St Mirren in Paisley.
He will also be minus Ross McCrorie, Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan, who are all self-isolating following a coronavirus outbreak within the Scotland Under-21 squad.
However, wing-back Hayes is edging towards a return, although the cup tie will be too soon for the 33-year-old.
Ferguson, McCrorie and McLennan will also return for the Premiership trip to St Mirren on Saturday December 5.
McInnes said: “The speed is out of my team at the minute as I have lost Watkins, Hayes, McLennan and Wright.
“Hopefully Jonny will be back for the game after the cup tie, when we are at St Mirren again in the league.”
The replacements drafted in by McInnes to face Hamilton, and Rangers in a 4-0 loss, have been short of match time.
The loss to Rangers was Greg Leigh’s first competitive start since last December when he suffered a fractured tibia while on loan at the Dons from NAC Breda.
Midfielder Funso Ojo has started just four times this season, with the loss at Ibrox his first start since a 3-0 loss to Motherwell on September 20.
Our Northern Goal podcast panel dicussed Funso Ojo’s place at Aberdeen in this week’s episode:
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Striker Curtis Main made his first domestic start of the season against Hamilton. Having been sidelined with injury for much of the season, Main’s only other start was in the 6-0 defeat of NSI Runavik in the Europa League in August.
Talismanic striker Sam Cosgrove made only his fourth start of the campaign at Hamilton having been ruled out for three months with a fractured cartilage suffered in pre-season.
Midfielder Dean Campbell has only returned from two months out with a foot injury and made his second start of the season at Hamilton.
McInnes said: “We started with quite a few boys who hadn’t played, almost half the team hadn’t had a lot of minutes.
“Dean only had eight or nine days training prior to the game at Ibrox.
“I told Dean prior to the Rangers game that he would come off the bench at Ibrox and start against Hamilton.
“It is important that we had him back available with McGeouch, Ferguson and McCrorie out from that one area of the team.
“Dean and Funso Ojo in the middle of the park were very good against Hamilton.
“Cosgrove is working his way back to full fitness and is such an important player for us.”
McInnes’ praise for star Hedges
Welsh international Ryan Hedges netted the opening goal at Hamilton and produced a strong performance.
It was Hedges’ sixth goal of the season.
McInnes said: “Ryan Hedges has been very consistent for us this season and is carrying a threat and scoring goals.
“He was in the middle of the goal for his goal and it is great to see him in those types of positions.
“I thought he was very good and carried the fight for us against Hamilton.
“Ryan is playing with a lot of confidence and long may that continue.
“He is the one that is still carrying that speed and giving us that fight at the top end of the pitch.”