Why Derek McInnes thinks Scott Wright is key to Aberdeen’s European hopes
Dons manager says he thinks ‘something is going to happen’ every time his in-form midfielder gets on the ball
Scott Wright is primed to play a big part as Aberdeen seek to unpick a Viking Stavanger defence evidently more porous than the Pittodrie side’s backline at present.
The teams meet on Thursday in the Europa League second qualifying round at the Viking stadium. The hosts have conceded ten times in their last five games, the most recent three goals coming in one game – Saturday’s 5-3 win over Kristiansund.
This is in stark contrast to Aberdeen’s record this season. Derek McInnes’ side have conceded only twice in six games.
Nevertheless, the fact the Norwegian side have managed to remain unbeaten during this five-game run underlines the threat they pose to Aberdeen’s hopes of securing a third qualifying round trip to face Sporting Lisbon.
Both sides are in form but while Aberdeen’s success has been built on defence, Viking Stavanger have been reaping the dividend from an old playbook where the central ploy is based on scoring more times than the opposition.
Bjarne Berntsen’s team have struck 15 times in their last five outings, winning four times and drawing once. Aberdeen, meanwhile, have scored five goals in five league matches so far this season. Their 6-0 hammering of Faroese side NSI Runavik in the previous round of Europa League qualifying does illustrate their offensive capabilities.
Wright is among Aberdeen’s danger men on recent form. McInnes’ side have been far easier on the eye in recent weeks thanks largely to Wright, who his manager credits with being able to create chances from very little.
“With the way Scott Wright is at the minute you feel like something is going to happen,” said the manager.
The 23-year-old has been a standout performer in recent weeks. Playing in a free role in front of the midfield, he has been able to locate space in which to create, as shown on Saturday when he provided the assist for Ross McCrorie to score his first goal for the club in the 1-0 win over Kilmarnock.
“He is one of many players at the minute who is feeling confident in their own game, you can see it in his training, and he has taken that into his games,” continued McInnes in reference to Wright.
“When you play with those types of players it is important that they contribute to a winning performance and he is certainly doing that.”
McCrorie was taken off with ten minutes to go after being involved in two heavy collisions with Kilmarnock defender Kirk Broadfoot.
“He said was okay after the game, but he didn’t look okay!” said McInnes. “He had ice all over his body. I probably should have taken him off a bit earlier and his running had been affected by the knocks he had picked up. He likes to get involved and he won plenty of tackles in there. I think he will be fine.
“Andy [Considine] felt his hamstring a wee bit at the start of the second half, but it came to nothing. I think we should be as we are going into the game in Norway.
“It is going to be a tough game on a plastic pitch against a capable side but it is why we look forward to Europe. We look forward to testing ourselves and the motivation for both teams is the opportunity to go to Portugal and take on Sporting Lisbon which is something really worth working for.”
Viking tend to play a 4-3-3 formation. McInnes will likely elect to match-up with the Norwegians, which means switching from his currently favoured three-at-the-back system.
He has confirmed that Tommie Hoban, who played in a back three against Kilmarnock on Saturday, will line up again on Thursday, despite the game being played on a synthetic surface.
He won’t, however, be considered for selection against Motherwell on Sunday as the manager continues to manage his comeback following a serious knee injury. Hoban is currently contracted until the end of this year but both parties are keen to extend this deal.
“We have still got to manage his week through his training and games,” said McInnes. “He will be available for Thursday, if he plays then he can’t play on Sunday. He is not at that point where he can have a two-day recovery and go again.
“I have been very pleased with him. You can see why we are keen to get him signed up again.”
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