Date: 19th December 2006 at 9:44am
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In a match being billed as their game of the season, Aberdeen fans are being urged to get their tickets fast as the match on Saturday against Rangers is sure to be a sell-out.

The stakes are high, second place and the chance to stop the oppositions` momentum are the bounty for the winners and the infliction of a heavy psychological blow in the race to the Champions League place cannot be over-looked.

Both clubs have had good results in difficult places recently, the Dons winning at Tynecastle to add to their 5 wins at home in a row and Rangers trouncing Hibs as well as securing their UEFA place in the next round as group winners means that pundits wishing to put a bet on will have to be pretty informed as this one is looking too close to call.

Ironically, it was defeat to Celtic earlier this month that has convinced Jimmy Calderwood that his team is capable of success in this league and that they should fear no-one.

The one that convinced me we can compete with anyone came at Celtic Park earlier this month. We showed a lot of character and I thought we were unlucky not to take anything from the game. I have a level-headed bunch in the dressing room but there is a growing belief that we can achieve something this season. I’ve told them it is there for the taking now.

If we keep up the sort of form we’ve shown lately, we’ll take some stopping but there’s still a long way to go.

The key will be keeping our main players fit because we don’t have as big a squad as Rangers.

Last season we finished just two points off fourth place in the league after a disastrous December.

You never want to tempt fate but I don’t see a dip like that happening again because we are a very difficult team to beat.

I’ve also got more options this term as was shown at Tynecastle when I brought on Steve Lovell.

pponents don’t fancy it when they see a striker with his quality and pace coming on.

But we have pace throughout the team allied to the versatility of Michael Hart, Chris Clark and Ricky Foster in particular. These three guys have done great jobs in different roles which is necessary with such a small squad and limited finances.

Gary Dempsey was the one to miss out against Hearts and it was a sore one for him but we needed Andrew Considine’s height to match their physical presence.

Before players join Aberdeen, they are told that regardless of their form, they’ll have to accept being dropped depending on the tactics for certain opponents.

If they have a problem with that they’re told not to come here because this is the way we work. It’s not a personal slight but it does serve to keep everyone sharp.

Darren Mackie knows Lovell is desperate to get back into the attack and Chris Maguire is bursting for the chance to show what he can do. It’s the same at the back where Zander Diamond and Karim Touzani are champing at the bit.

As a manager I can now decide to sit in and counter-attack or push much further up the pitch, knowing we’re unlikely to get caught because we’re so solid and fast in defence.

We are a much stronger unit now and hopefully I’ll get another chance to add to the squad next month. But to do that will require a bit of wheeling and dealing.’

hilst the Dons boss is impressed with his own teams` form, he knows that the South Glasgow club can never be underestimated. Their recent results and the fact they battled on to scrape back a point against Celtic shows that the fight is still there, the fact their captain will face the Dons is of no comfort to Calderwood.

Rangers are on the way back and I’ve warned my players about that. Rangers deserved to beat Celtic on Sunday and while their game against Partizan Belgrade was poor, it was still another win.

They’ve also achieved a great result against Hibs this month so they are on a revival. I know this has happened before and they haven’t sustained it.’

I’d rather Barry wasn’t facing us because he’s an important player for Rangers.

He can go over the top at times when Rangers lose but that shows how much he cares. He’s a great captain.

The first time I saw Barry was against Bayer Leverkusen. He was just 20 but was unbelievable and he seems to be on top of his game again now.’

ightly however, Jimmy has belief in his own side and will be looking to use his own teams` strength to come out on top on Saturday.

e said: ‘Our confidence is high because we’ve gone to difficult places, dug out positive results and put together an unbelievable run.

ne man Calderwood would like to add to his roster in the January window to help boost the Euro bid is Peter Pan striker Craig Brewster. The ex Caley and Dundee United player manager is being courted by many SPL clubs and Calderwood does not think that it is hard to see why,

e said: ‘I worked with him before at East End Park and I know what qualities he has but, at this stage, I don’t know if he will sign. With all due respect, the other clubs who are reportedly interested in him can all offer him regular first-team football and it is a different role we have in mind for Craig here.

‘He knows what we are offering and he has the chance to be involved with a team trying to qualify for European football next season.

‘We can’t guarantee he will play every week, though, as Lee Miller, Steve Lovell and Darren Mackie are all doing well for us. I know Craig and I know he loves playing football. Whether he wants to join Aberdeen and fight for his place every week or go to another club is up to him.

‘Whatever he decides, he has to be 100% sure, which is why I have given him a couple of days to think about our offer.’



e said: ‘I know a few eyebrows have been raised at why we are looking to sign a 40-year-old forward but I was asked the same questions at Dunfermline when I signed Craig at 36.

‘He helped take Dunfermline to the Scottish Cup final and into the UEFA Cup and I know he is still a very good player.

‘He is one of the fittest lads around and the fact so many teams are interested in him tells you about his ability.

‘I would say, with the exception of Celtic and Rangers, every manager in this league would love to have Craig in their team. Had he not just left Dundee United I am sure Craig Levein would have been interested in him, too.

‘When I am asked about a model professional Craig is the first name who springs to mind for me.

‘He has looked after himself well and he is still a terrific player.’

nother player linked with the Dons is former Rangers and Falkirk striker Darryl Duffy but Calderwood has said that he will not be pursuing the player who is now at Hull City as he believes that he, whilst a very good player, is too similar to the forwards already at the club.