Date: 29th December 2006 at 11:04am
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After weeks of Jimmy Calderwood being able to basically choose from a full squad, this weeks visit to Tannadice could see him have to choose from a vastly depleted pool and even the manager is feeling the blues.

Jimmy has stayed away from training since the Kilmarnock win as he has the flu and does not want to infect his players although it`s too late for Karim Touzani who is also suffering from the bug.

Besides the flu outbreak, there are serious concerns over Captain Russell Anderson who injured his knee against Killie but might not be joining Jamie Smith and Richie Byrne on the definite crocks list as Jimmy Nicholl sees improvement in him ‘Russell has given himself a chance of playing, which I didn’t expect earlier in the week.

‘We’ll see if he comes through training again before we make a decision. Jimmy may even wait until Saturday morning.

‘We wouldn’t like to lose him through injury for three or four games for the sake of rushing him into the match at Tannadice if he’s not fully fit.

‘We’ll take that on board before making a decision with the physios and Russell.

‘There’s no doubt he’s a very important player – the last time he was out was when we lost 1-0 at Kilmarnock. We went down there expecting to do something but played poorly. We would like to have him in the side but won’t take risks.

‘Zander Diamond can come in, Karim could be available and there is the option of moving Scott Severin into defence. We’re not short of cover.’

Nicholl was obviously very happy that their Northern neighbours Inverness Caley defeated their Euro rivals Rangers on Wednesday night as it leaves the Dons in control of second spot but he knows he can`t rely on others to do their work for them.

He added: ‘You want to get the job done and stay up there yourself but it certainly helps us when those results come about.

‘There is pressure on us but it is the best type of pressure. If you asked the players who were sitting second bottom for so many years they would tell you that. It is a challenge to get yourself away from the bottom and it’s a challenge to keep yourself up around the top of the table as well.

‘You have to enjoy that challenge, enjoy working hard and enjoy getting on the ball.

‘It is a good time at the club just now and if we get points in the games against Dundee United and Hibs then we’ll start giving ourselves a cushion, gaps start to open up. Then if we drop three points down the line we have the breathing space to get it going again.

‘I can’t see pressure telling in their working week, although we were a bit nervous against Falkirk. They are putting in more good performances than bad ones.’

Saturday`s opponents Dundee United are enjoying a decent spell at the moment and became the first club to take anything away from Parkhead this season when they drew 2-2 on Boxing Day. Craig Levein has transformed the Tannadice outfit since his appointment and envisages a cracking tussle when the two sides clash on Saturday.

Aberdeen are doing fantastically well -playing good football, scoring goals and have an excellent defensive record.

We’re in the middle of a really tough run of games. We’ve played Hearts, been to Parkhead and now we’re about to face probably the form team in the league. ‘If you look at the last dozen games they are right up there with Celtic points-wise so that tells you we’re going to have to be at our very best on Saturday.

Once you get players playing together regularly and for a while that breeds confidence. If a team knows each other inside-out little partnerships appear all over the park and that makes you much stronger as a unit.

Reading have come into the Premiership with the same team they’ve had for years and they are doing well.

Colchester are another example of a team who have stuck together and who are achieving success.

The average lifespan of a manager is about 18 months these days which is ridiculous because nobody can build a team in that time. There is an intolerance and a need for instant success.

A few bad results make people panic and that leads to other things. I’ve experienced it myself.

Jimmy Calderwood has been given time to do his job up there and they are getting the benefits of that.’

I’m looking forward to this game and I hope the fans are feeling just as excited.

Both teams come into the game with confidence so it’s set up to be an exciting one and we’re hoping for a good crowd.

Despite the recent managers at United having cash to spend and the door at Tannadice being on a constant player revolver, Levein does not think that he has sufficient personnel, whereas he sees Aberdeen having quality cover in most departments.

‘Aberdeen have more strength in depth than us. I look at their bench and see someone like Stevie Lovell but we don’t have those sort of options.

‘In the last few weeks I’ve turned round to look for someone to change the game and have found that everyone is out on the pitch. Attacking players can change games for you and we simply don’t have enough of them just now.’

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