Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is encouraged the SFA have apologised for the Covid chaos that leaves him without three key players.
Ross McCrorie, Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennnan are all out of tonight’s clash at Hamilton due to the fall-out from an outbreak of the virus within the Scotland Under-21 squad.
McCrorie tested positive on his return to Pittodrie after U21 Euro qualifiers against Greece and Croatia.
It was only discovered McCrorie contracted the virus because Aberdeen test all players on their return from international duty.
Although Ferguson and McLennon tested negative, they were identified as close contacts and have to self-isolate for 14 days.
McInnes subsequently called for the SFA to conduct mandatory testing on all players returning from international duty.
SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell has since apologised to clubs, including Aberdeen, caught up in the chaos.
McInnes said: “It was encouraging that the chief executive has come out and apologised.
“There’s been a form of accountability there and the clear message is that in hindsight they would have done things differently and they will look at all their procedures ahead of the next get-together.
“That is encouraging to hear.
“It’s all we can ask for, really, as managers and clubs.
“We’re encouraged that the chief executive has come out and acknowledged that in hindsight they could have done things better.”
Maxwell, however, also defended the Covid-19 protocols of the international set-up.
The SFA chief executive insists each U21 player was tested four times, all of which were negative.
Celtic’s David Turnbull and McCrorie’s brother Robbie – on-loan at Livingston from Rangers – all tested positive after representing Scotland U21s.
It was the second time McCrorie, who is asymptomatic, had tested positive having returned a positive in March whilst on loan from Rangers at League One Portsmouth.
McInnes said: “There’s a general feeling that you can get this virus twice.
“He’s either just been really unlucky or the first one wasn’t as conclusive as maybe this one.
“I had a discussion with the doctor and we’re kind of questioning the validity of the first one at Portsmouth.
“It was maybe one of those that was inconclusive. Back then, it was all quite new.”
McInnes will be without eight first-team players for tonight’s trip to Premiership bottom club Hamilton.
The trio of McCrorie, Ferguson and McLennan will also miss Saturday’s Betfred cup tie at St Mirren.
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Out injured are Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn, Dylan McGeouch, Scott Wright and on-loan Bristol City attacker Marley Watkins.
In-form playmaker Wright was ruled out of the trip to Ibrox with a groin problem that came to light during training on Friday.
The Dons subsequently had it scanned, but the results were inconclusive.
McInnes confirmed Wright may have to be seen by a specialist in a bid to get to the bottom of the injury issue.
He said: “It’s Scott’s groin.
“He felt it last Friday towards the end of training and he’s not really responding.
“We’ve had it scanned. There’s nothing really clear on it.
“But it’s still causing him an issue so we may have to get that looked at further by a specialist.”
McInnes was also without eight first team players for Ibrox and there is no respite ahead of the trip to Hamilton tonight.
He said: “It’s as we were.
“Everybody came through the game on Sunday okay, but we have nobody else to add to the squad.
“Hopefully we can get one or two back for the St Mirren game on Saturday. That’s what I’m working towards.
“All being well, we will get one or two lads back for that.”
With the absence of the established central midfield partnership of McCrorie and Ferguson at Ibrox, McInnes went with full-back Greg Leigh and Funso Ojo.
Leigh was making his first competitive start since last December having battled back from a fractured tibia and Ojo made his first start since a 3-0 loss to Motherwell in September.
Aberdeen struggled to get a foothold in the midfield at Ibrox.
Having returned from injury, Dean Campbell comes into contention to start in midfield tonight.
McInnes said: “We started with a lot of players who hadn’t been playing a lot of regular football.
“That maybe had a little bit of bearing in terms of trying to deal with the strength of Rangers.
“I think a lot of them will be better for having had the game and, although this one comes quickly, I still feel as though we’ll be a bit more equipped for this one.
“Young Dean is an obvious one to come into contention and look to play. He did well when he came on and will be good to go.”
McInnes has challenged his squad to immediately bounce back from the Rangers defeat.
When they lost 1-0 to the Ibrox club in the opening game of the season on August 1, they had to wait almost three weeks to put that right due to three postponements following breaches of coronavirus protocol.
He said: “We’ll work with the players available and it’s an important three points now.
“After the last time Rangers beat us, we had to wait a good few weeks until we started to feel better about ourselves.
“The good thing is, despite the issues we’ve got, we can just get on with the next game so quickly and try and get on a winning run again and try and win all three points against Hamilton, which would help matters.”