Date: 3rd May 2007 at 10:45am
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The loss of Russell Anderson through suspension is not situation anyone at Pittodrie is relishing and it comes, unluckily enough, for the Dons biggest game of the season, the Euro showdown at Tynecastle.

Russell again proved his importance to his team last week with some spectacular last minute tackling and I don`t think he lost a header all day which went a long way to recording a morale-boosting clean sheet.

He was played alongside his old defensive buddy Zander Diamond for the first time in months since injuries, loss of form and the emergence of Andrew Considine have kept the 22 year old defender out the team.

This weekend, unless Scott Severin moved back into defence or Karim Touzani is unexpectedly draughted in, Zander should line up alongside Considine, forming a partnership that is untested at this level but their captain has no fears about the youngsters facing the on form Hearts strikers.

Russell said, ‘The players are good enough to beat Hearts at Tynecastle without me,’

‘Obviously I’m gutted at missing the match as it’s such a big one.

‘But we’ve come this far as a team this season and we have a strong squad which can cope with injuries and suspensions.

‘We’ve got a lot of good players at the club and I have every confidence in them.

‘I had been sitting on five bookings for a while but during games you don’t think about the implications of any possible yellow cards.’

‘I’m confident the lads can do it even though we know it will be hard.

‘I’ll make the trip down to Tynecastle to support the team.

‘We’ve just got one last hurdle to overcome and we can do it.

‘We’ve got a reasonably good record down there in recent seasons.

‘After a long spell of unsuccessful results we’ve managed to turn things round.

‘Tynecastle is a difficult place to go but all the players are relishing the trip.’

This is a big chance for both defenders to prove their worth and claim the spot as their own and with Lee Mair signing from Dundee United on Monday, competition for places is just going to get harder.

A good showing against Hearts from the two selected could go along way in their careers which have not progressed in the way they at first promised but Jimmy Calderwood does not regret refusing to cash in on Zander when he was being touted for moves to the Old Firm, Spain and England.

Calderwood said,” I could have sold Zander for a lot of money but there was no way that we were going to sell him. The offer was thrown straight out the window.

‘That is not a decision I regret because he will bounce back and Sunday’s game at Tynecastle is made for a player of his ability.

‘He had problems with wee Stevie Naismith’s pace and movement against Kilmarnock but this is the sort of battle against a physical side he will enjoy.’

It’s a blow Russell is out for the trip to Tynecastle

but it’s time for others to stand up and be counted.’

‘We shouldn’t be making a drama of the fact one player, however important, is out of the team. It’s up to others in the squad to prove they are capable of stepping in to do the business.

‘Zander has the right leadership qualities, so it is just a question of him getting back to the level of performance he produced two years ago. He still has about 15 years of his career to go and, daft as it sounds, all the problems he’s been through will stand him in good stead.’

ime will tell but if there was ever a match in which to show the doubters wrong, Diamond and Considine could not pick a better one than this Hearts match.