Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis is confident the lack of fans at Pittodrie won’t be a factor when they face Rangers on the opening day of the season this Saturday.
The Dons were given a taste of playing behind closed doors with a 1-1 home draw against Hibernian at the weekend.
Craig Bryson’s encouraging pre-season form continued as he opened the scoring, but a long-range strike from Hibs midfielder Darryl Horgan levelled matters late on.
The Dons have only a few days to wait before the Scottish Premiership season finally gets under way when Steven Gerrard’s side travel north.
It will be Aberdeen’s first competitive match since a 3-1 league win against Hibernian at Pittodrie on March 7 with Scottish football suspended a week later due to the coronavirus crisis.
There will be no supporters at Pittodrie this Saturday due to the Covid-19 restrictions, but Lewis says there will be no lack of motivation for the Dons players as they bid to get the season off to the perfect start.
The Aberdeen captain said: “If anyone finds it difficult to get up for a game against Rangers then they shouldn’t be here.
“That is not going to be a problem, the lads will be up for it.
“The match against Hibernian was a really good work-out and it felt realistic.
“Everyone is looking forward to the game. It is a great game to start with.
“It is going to be different at the start of the season with no supporters there.
“We are all aware of that and we have had a good feel for what Pittodrie will be like on a match day.
“It is different in the changing rooms and the whole build-up to the game. But the last couple of games have been really good exercises.
“We have a good week of training now and everyone is looking forward to the start of the season.
“There will be different challenges this season and it will be the teams who adapt to that the best who will get off to the best starts.
“We want to be a team that is right at the top of the league from the off.”
The Dons are yet to win after three pre-season games against fellow Premiership sides, with a 2-2 draw against Ross County at Cormack Park followed by a 2-1 reverse against St Johnstone and the 1-1 draw with Hibernian.
But Lewis was encouraged by his team’s display against the Easter Road side and feels the club are on track ahead of the visit of the Ibrox men in a lunchtime kick-off.
He said: “Saturday was a really good game. We would have loved to have kept a clean sheet but it was a great strike from them at the end to deny us.
“It was a really good exercise. It felt realistic and almost like a league game.
“We got to experience what Pittodrie is going to be like for the game on Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to it. We have had good preparation.”
Defender Tommie Hoban featured as a trialist for the Dons during Saturday’s encounter with Hibs. Dons manager Derek McInnes has previously said he does not have scope in his budget to bring in new additions unless a player leaves the club.
Hoban, who is a free agent, was on the verge of landing a short-term deal with the Dons in March prior to lockdown.
The former Watford defender suffered a cruciate ligament injury in February 2019 during a loan spell with the Dons.
Aberdeen are short on options in defence after Mikey Devlin suffered a hamstring injury in the bounce game against Ross County which is likely to keep him out until September.
A calf injury has disrupted Shay Logan’s pre-season work, while Scotland international Scott McKenna has not featured in a competitive game since tearing his hamstring against St Mirren in the Scottish Cup quarter-final on February 29. The injury was expected to rule him out for the rest of the season.
Jonny Hayes, back at the Dons for a second spell after leaving Celtic, was deployed at left-back against Hibernian and Lewis was impressed with how seamlessly the Irish international settled back into the team.
The skipper said: “He is looking sharp and ready to go.
“He is a great addition. It is great we have pretty much the same guys here as last season.”