Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes insists the return from long-term injury of Funso Ojo is a major boost in the bid to end Celtic’s 18-month undefeated domestic home run.
After three months sidelined with a hamstring tear midfielder Ojo returned to action when starting the 1-0 defeat of Hamilton at Pittodrie last weekend.
The Belgian managed just 45 minutes against Accies, but one half was McInnes’ plan for the £125,000 summer signing.
After increasing Ojo’s work-load in training throughout this week McInnes is confident the 28-year-old can play for most of the game and have an impact.
McInnes believes Aberdeen play better with Ojo marshalling midfield and insists statistics back that up.
He said: “It is brilliant to have Funso back and the stats show we make more passes and control games more when he plays.
“That was a case in point at the weekend against Hamilton.
“We knew he could only play 45 minutes in that game so it was a case of whether we started Funso or not.
“For that game we thought it was important to get off to a strong start and impose ourselves.
“Funso was a big part of that as the team played well in the opening period.
“We increased Funso’s training days this week and will hopefully increase his minutes at Celtic although he is still short of playing for the 90 minutes.”
The capture of Ojo from Scunthorpe was the only transfer fee Aberdeen outlaid during a busy summer transfer window.
Ojo and former Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson were two of the major summer signings and were secured with a view to strengthening the midfield.
However, the Pittodrie careers of both have been derailed by injury. Of the 26 games so far this season Ojo and Bryson have started just four together.
Bryson is set to miss today’s clash at Parkhead with an ankle problem. Defender Greg Leigh is also a major doubt having suffered a shin injury against Hamilton.
There was relief in the Dons camp when a flu bug that affected training in the build-up to the Hamilton game abated.
McInnes said: “A few of the younger lads reported ill but thankfully the first-team dressing room, which is the most important, seems to be clear of it now.
“It certainly had a big impact on the training week last week.”
Aberdeen need to deliver a strong performance, and a result at Parkhead, following a dismal return in recent games against the Hoops.
Since a 0-0 draw at Parkhead in March the Reds have lost three straight games to Celtic, conceding 10 goals while failing to score.
The nadir was the 4-0 loss at Pittodrie in October where every goal was conceded in a nightmare first half.
McInnes said: “We have had a difficult 90 minutes against Celtic already this season at Pittodrie. Certainly in that first half Celtic showed real attacking intent, movement and speed.
“They were difficult to handle.
“Yet by and large we have managed to compete well with Celtic for the vast majority of times.
“Sometimes the results don’t always come but we have certainly had enough positive results.
“This time we need to get the defensive side of the team very well drilled and have good concentration on the day.
“We also need to have the confidence to go and play to cause Celtic problems.
“There is no point in us going down there if we don’t believe we are good enough to get a result.
“We will go down with big hearts and hopefully get a positive result.”