Ahead of today`s vital clash with Kilmarnock which Aberdeen go into without Jamie Smith who has a groin injury, Jimmy Calderwood has given his match preview and season so far review. After the disappointing defeat to Rangers, a match that saw Pittodrie sold out for the first time in ten years, Calderwood has praised the fans that turned out in force and would love to repay them with a win over Killie but he knows the recent Dons record against Jim Jeffries team is not great.
Jimmy Calderwood:- ‘We face Kilmarnock for what is our last Pittodrie fixture of 2006 and one in which we’ll be absolutely determined to sign off the year, as far as homes games go, with three points.
Once again, can I say a huge ‘thank you’ to our fans who have been magnificent, particularly away from home where, more often than not, they out-sing the home support for whoever we are playing by some distance. It makes for an incredible atmosphere and that is what we’d like to bring to Pittodrie on a regular basis. To help that, we’ll do all we possibly can to finish the year on a high while, after the CIS Insurance Cup debacle back in August, the fans are due a wee cup run, so fingers crossed.
On behalf of the players, staff and management of Aberdeen Football Club, let me take this opportunity to wish our supporters everywhere all the very best for 2007! ‘
Looking back on the season so far, the early part was characterised by the loss of late goals that cost valuable points, notably in our opening home match against Inverness, away to St. Mirren in August and at Ibrox in September. Thankfully, we seemed to have reversed that trend, with late strikes at the right end against Hibs at home, Inverness away, Motherwell at Pittodrie and just ten days ago against Hearts at Tynecastle.
One of the big differences has been our home form this season and, after a bit of an up and down start, that has contributed greatly to a league position that realistically we didn’t think we’d be in but one which has resulted in our confidence being currently sky high. Allied to the improvement in our home form has been the fact that, touch wood, our injury situation has not been as serious as in previous seasons.
I’ve always said that if we can keep everyone fit, we’ll do okay, as it also means we have players in reserve who can come on and change the course of a game. Steve Lovell is a good example of what I mean. He came back from injury and was on at the bench at Inverness, came on late on and scored the equaliser. He than started against Motherwell but picked up a wee knock and was replaced by Darren Mackie, who scored twice in quick succession to win us the game.
Darren was then the man in possession but then last weekend, Steve came on to score the decider at Hearts as well as grbbing another against Rangers on Saturday and that’s the great thing, I do have choices and not just up front but in other areas of the team as well.
In my first season at the club we amassed a total of sixty-one points and obviously it would be fantastic to surpass that total but there is a long way to go and it’s a case of taking just one game at a time. As everyone is aware, there won’t be a huge amount of activity in the forthcoming transfer window – I don’t think we are too far away in terms of the squad but if we do tinker with it, it’ll be a case of a player going out to accommodate a player coming in. ‘
Aberdeen Team News:
Jamie Smith and Richie Byrne are out. Smith injured his groin in the Rangers match and could need an operation. Scott Severin’s elbow injury should not prevent him from playing, he too was injured during the Rangers match.
Player to watch: Steve Lovell
It’s not known yet if he’ll start but after coming off the bench to net the winner against Hearts and also to score the goal that gave the Dons hope against Rangers, Steve will not be far away from the managers mind. He maybe a little short of match practice and that alone should allow Darren Mackie to start alongside Lee Miller but Calderwood will be happy to have a striker on the bench who will be biting his ear to get on.
Kilmarnock Team News:
Kilmarnock midfielder Paul Di Giacomo has a fractured cheekbone, while club captain Garry Hay is suspended.
Player to watch: Steven Naismith
The recent Arsenal target showed last week that he was still dangerous will a 25 yard strike against Motherwell to claim his 7th SPL goal of the season.
Match Facts & Stats
Dundee United V Aberdeen 30.12.06