Derek McInnes ready for Rangers as Aberdeen prepare to face them in Scottish Premiership opener

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is ready for the challenge of facing Rangers in the opening game of the new Scottish Premiership on Saturday, despite the absence of supporters to cheer his side on inside Pittodrie.

The Dons finished fourth last season – two places and 22 points behind Steven Gerrard’s side – after the season was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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McInnes is expecting his players to push Rangers hard, however, in a game which will be the first in what promises to be an exciting Scottish Premiership campaign in which Sky Sports will be the only broadcaster to offer live coverage of.

“It’s the type of fixture that is traditionally well known for its atmosphere and that adds the spice to the game,” he told Sky Sports News.


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“It’s still two clubs who will have a lot of good players on show. Rangers will be keen to get off to a good start, as we are, to try and get those first three points as quickly as possible.

“I have such a high regard for the Rangers squad and I think Stevie (Steven Gerrard) has done such a good job there.

“It will be tough for us but we want to start as we mean to go on and we want to make it a tough afternoon for Rangers as well.”

Despite the ongoing problems caused by COVID-19, including difficulties in planning for the future both on and off the pitch, McInnes has been boosted by the return of Jonny Hayes to the club, while also managing to keep hold of developing talent Sam Cosgrove.

“We’ve managed to bring Jonny Hayes in, a boy we know very well,” added McInnes of Hayes, who played over 200 games for Aberdeen before joining Celtic in June 2017.

“We’re delighted we’ve found a way to do that and Jonny’s been a huge part in making that happen. Because he can play in two or three positions, he gives you more than just one player.

“The fact that he knows the club, the culture and the demands, he won’t just be coming here to kick back on the back of what he’s achieved at Celtic.

“He’s a key player for me and I think we’ve brought in someone who’s going to improve our starting XI.”

Cosgrove will also be available to McInnes after the 23-year-old turned down a move to French side Guingamp for a fee believed to be in excess of £2.5m.

The striker scored 23 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions for the Dons last season but McInnes admits he is impressed Cosgrove has not rushed to join the first club to show an interest in signing him.

McInnes said: “I think it shows a degree of confidence from him. A lot of young players would just jump at the opportunity to go and make a few extra quid and not trust themselves to bide for the right one [move].

“Sam’s got that inner confidence and single-mindedness that it didn’t feel right, so why move? He’s happy being here.”

As for matters off the pitch, Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack recently revealed the club is facing up to a potential £10m shortfall in income, although he has confirmed half of that has already been offset.

That means the proposed new stadium will have to be delayed but McInnes remains positive about the direction the club is heading in.

“The plan is still there to do it but we are having to react to a situation that no one saw coming,” added McInnes.

“There’s no doubt it’s hit our plans in the short-term but the long-term plan is still to build the stadium. We are a club that’s debt-free, we’ve got good assets on the pitch, we’ve got good energy off the pitch and we want to be as competitive as we can.

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