Jim Goodwin’s Aberdeen are in excellent form this summer and are heading into this weekend’s match against Celtic full of confidence.
Unlike other top-flight clubs such as Hibernian, St Mirren and St Johnstone, the Dons sailed through the group stages of the Scottish League Cup against lower league opposition.
They won all four games in their group, scoring 12 goals without replying along the way, to book a place in the second round against Annan Athletic.
However, their visit to Celtic Park will be a completely different test for them, and Goodwin has been left with something of a selection dilemma due to loanee Liam Scales’ unavailability.
Scales have been in fine form at centre-back for his new club after making the temporary switch from the Bhoys, but league rules say he cannot face his parent side.
Goodwin has admitted it’s a blow and is now experimenting with fielding a makeshift defense ahead of the visit to the champions.
Speaking recently, he told Aberdeen Live: “It is disappointing that Scales is going to be unavailable but that is the nature of the beast when you loan from teams within your own league. You just have to take that on the chin.
“I think Scales and Anthony Stewart have looked tremendous in the opening three games. Hopefully after the Celtic game we can develop the relationship.
“We moved Ross McCrorie to centre-back to see how himself and Stewart looked together. Ross played a hell of a lot of football at centre-back last year and was very, very good at it. I like him in the middle of the pitch personally because of his energy levels and determination and willingness to get the ball back. That might be an option.
“We’ve also got David Bates who is available and can play there. And young Jack Milne can play there.”
Those comments were made before yesterday’s home match against Raith Rovers, but in that one Goodwin again shifted McCrorie into a defensive position in the second half.
That would indicate he is the most likely candidate to partner Stewart – who is another new arrival at Pittodrie this summer following a transfer from Wycombe Wanderers.
Celtic will be expected to dominate possession at Paradise and create lots of chances, so it’s likely to be a busy Sunday for whoever gets the nod.
With Aberdeen in a confident mood, it should be an exciting 90 minutes and hopefully the Bhoys can capitalize on a bit of a shake-up at the back.
In other news, Daizen Maeda reveals why he initially turned Celtic down; how Ange convinced him.
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