ABERDEEN have been dealt a bitter blow on the eve of a crucial European with the news that veteran defender Andy Considine will not play again until after Christmas.
The 34-year-old defender, who has made approaching 600 appearances for the Pittodrie side, was stretchered off in the first leg of the Europa Conference League play-off tie against Qarabag in Azerbaijan a week ago on what manager Stephen Glass described as a “disgraceful” pitch.
And with the Baku outfit ready for action in the second leg at Pittodrie tonight, Glass revealed Considine had surgery to repair his cruciate ligament in his knee, the recuperation period for which will take until towards the end of the year.
A disappointed Glass called it a “hammer-blow to us and our season” but stressed it shouldn’t be a season-ending injury for the long-serving player.
“He is in good spirits,” Glass said. “His character is unbelievable.
“He is one of the best professionals I have ever seen in my time in football, which is 30 years or so. He is a great leader at this club, a great player at this club and an example for the young players.
“You are going to miss that, but it is important that everybody else picks up the slack and makes the loss as minimal as possible. You can’t underestimate the loss of Andy Considine to this club.”
Glass, who signed Wolves striker Austin Samuels on a season-long loan, will now seek cover for Considine’s absence from the centre of defence, following a challenge by a Qarabag player, as he insisted the pitch in Baku was to blame for interrupting the player’s season.
“Yes, I stand by my comments last week,” he said. “This is a guy who has had 600 games or so and hasn’t even looked like having something of that magnitude. I don’t think there is any doubt that the poor state of the pitch was to blame and every player who played on it will acknowledge that. There is zero blame attached to their player or club.”
The manager expressed his delighted that Lewis Ferguson, a key man in the midfield for the past few seasons, had been called up to Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Denmark, Moldova and Austria.
Qarabag’s 1-0 lead from the first leg ensures a potential thriller before 18,000 Aberdeen supporters tonight with Glass underlining his belief that going through to the group stage of the competition was “doable”.
“We won’t underestimate them by any means,” he added. “We will give them the full respect in the knowledge they will be better on our pitch than they were at home.
“We will be better as well and it will be a very good game. We believe we can win, 100 per cent.
“We are aware of their dangers and their qualities but if we do the right things and at the right time we can make it a special night.”
Midfielder Ryan Hedges, injured two weeks ago, is not yet ready to play, but Jonny Hayes, Connor McLennan and Jack MacKenzie, all troubled by injuries, are in the running to play tonight.
Glass heaped praise on midfielder Lewis Ferguson over his international call-up for Scotland’s forthcoming World Cup qualifiers, especially as the former Hamilton playmaker, who turned 22 on Tuesday, had been the target for Watford in the Premier League earlier in the transfer window.
“He has deserved it,” he said “as he has been fantastic when his mind could have been all over the place with all the stuff that is on the periphery going on.”