The confirmation of loan striker Ryan Edmondson’s ankle injury is just the latest misfortune to shallow the attacking pool at Aberdeen this season.
Derek McInnes’ Dons have only played one Premiership game so far (a 1-0 home loss to Rangers), with their next three matches postponed following a Covid-19 protocol breach at the club, as well as a spike in coronavirus cases in the Granite City generally.
They are next scheduled to be in action on August 20, travelling to McDiarmid Park to play St Johnstone in the first of their rearranged games.
However, with last season’s top goalscorer Sam Cosgrove – one of the lockdown restriction-breaching “Soul eight” alongside fellow striker Bruce Anderson – out for up to four months, Edmondson back at his parent club and Curtis Main suffering a thigh strain in recent weeks to compound a pre-season disrupted by knee surgery, the question over who will lead the line in Perth – and try to provide the goals – looms large.
Here are the available striking options who could be in the frame:
The most obvious option at the moment is 21-year-old Bruce Anderson, who started upfront on his own against Rangers and would surely have played against Saints last Saturday, had the Scottish Government not ordered the game off.
Anderson struggled in the opener due to the Gers’ domination of territory and possession in the opening period, which left him chasing shadows at times. He would likely be more suited to the game at McDiarmid Park, provided Aberdeen are able to get the ball down and his team-mates get near him.
The youth academy product is a great finisher, as he proved with his debut senior goal against Rangers at Pittodrie in 2018, however, the elephant in the room is whether his involvement in the club’s Covid crisis in recent days will impact on his minutes.
By the time August 20 rolls around, the self-isolation period the eight players who broke the rules are required to observe will be over, so it will be the club’s decision whether Anderson plays or not.
If Main is fit in time, he would likely get the nod for a game Aberdeen will be desperate to win, given they will be three rounds of fixtures behind.
The Englishman became first choice to head McInnes’ preferred 4-2-3-1 shape in the second half of last term after Cosgrove’s form tailed off, and he bagged four league goals.
His main strength is… his strength, in that he is much more suited to holding the up long balls and bringing team-mates into the game than Anderson, or even Cosgrove,
However, after early-summer minor knee surgery, followed by his thigh strain, he hasn’t exactly had ideal preparation for being thrust in to the starting line-up as soon as he’s available.
Before Derek McInnes took over at Pittodrie in 2013, McGinn – now in his second spell at the club – was a striker and Aberdeen’s main source of goals under Craig Brown.
He has spent the years since on the wing or in the hole behind the likes of Adam Rooney and Cosgrove. However, every time a striker crisis envelops the Dons, his name isn’t far from the lips of the Red Army and pundits as an option.
McGinn scored more than 20 goals as a striker in season 2012/13 and, in terms of current Premiership players, he is the third top scorer since 2011 behind Leigh Griffiths and Billy McKay. So he knows where the net is.
While, at 33 years old, McGinn isn’t as explosively quick as he used to be, he has shown time and again the ability to produce a finish or pass which turns a loss into a draw or draw into a win for Aberdeen.
McLennan could see his options on the wing limited this season due to the likes of Matty Kennedy and Jonny Hayes, although both were members of the eight-man party who breach Covid rules.
However, if he doesn’t get the opportunity out wide, there might be a chance for him upfront for a few games. It’s in this position, after all, where he made his (scoring) first start for the Dons in a 4-1 league win against St Mirren at Pittodrie in 2018.
He also showed in the 2-0 Scottish Cup win at Ibrox last year he can score under considerable pressure. Worth a go?
Ruth, 18, signed from Queen’s Park, is yet to make his competitive debut for Aberdeen, but supporters have been speculating on whether this could be his moment.
He’s certainly shown he can finish playing for the reserves.
Surprisingly, it is believed central midfielder Lewis Ferguson, who often plays in the hole behind the striker, was being considered to lead the line against Hamilton.
However, the Accies clash and the league trip to Parkhead to play Celtic then followed visit to St Johnstone in being postponed.
Given the availability of Anderson and potential availability of Main it would be a long shot for one of the first names on the team-sheet to still be played out of position for the rearranged Saints game, but you never know…