Aberdeen expect Motherwell game to go ahead despite illness

By David Currie and John BarnesBBC Scotland
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee
Mark McGhee has been left frustrated by injuries and illness

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes expects Saturday's match at Motherwell to go ahead despite the outbreak of a virus affecting the first team at Fir Park.

Well boss Mark McGhee said he could call for a postponement if any more players are struck down.

He was left with only six of his regular first-team players training on Thursday, but McInnes is "confident and positive the game will go ahead".

'It's very unusual for the league to postpone a game," he said.

"I think it would be very unusual for a game to be cancelled for that, but I have every sympathy for Mark.

''It happened to me before at St Johnstone when it ransacked the club. We had to deal with it. Hopefully the game will go ahead as planned.''

Motherwell were forced to postpone an under-20s game against Celtic on Tuesday after the vast majority of the squad were laid low.

And a request to the Scottish Professional Football League would follow about the Aberdeen game if the illness continues to spread among the first team.

But an SPFL spokesman said that as of 1730 GMT on Thursday, no request from Motherwell had been received.

"We had to shut down the club yesterday," McGhee said.

"If we had another three or four showing these symptoms and unable to train then it would leave me with no choice.

"I might only have nine players including the entire under-20s. I can't go into a football match with eight or nine players."

Motherwell's Stephen Pearson and Mark McGhee
Mark McGhee lost Stephen Pearson (left) to long-term injury last Friday

McGhee believes his team have "a responsibility to the competition", with Celtic also to visit Fir Park on 9 April.

"I don't particularly want to go into the Aberdeen game with half a team and then have my full team out against Celtic," he said.

"I want it to be fair. I want to beat them both with the same team."

Motherwell already had Stephen Pearson ruled out with a punctured lung and broken ribs, with fellow midfielder Keith Lasley a major doubt with a dead leg and defender Louis Laing still sidelined through injury.

"We had the entire under-20s wiped out by a virus," said McGhee. "We had six of the first-team squad showing symptoms.

"At the moment, our count seems to be about 15, which includes two or three of the young boys who have never been involved at first-team level.

"So it's looking pretty grim at the moment with Lasley, Pearson and Laing all injured.

"But if I have nine or 10 of the ones that have been playing every week then I will be quite content to go into the game. I don't want to go in with six though."

Rooney set to boost Dons 'after the split'

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes applauds fans after the win over Kilmarnock
McInnes says at this stage of the season "we'd sacrifice performance for results"

Motherwell are hoping to consolidate their place in the top six following their 2-1 win over Dundee United last Friday, while the Dons will arrive aiming to maintain pressure on leaders Celtic at the top.

''Motherwell will be no different to us, they'll want to get all three points, they've got their own motivation," McInnes added. "I can sympathise with Mark - he'll want to get his best team out there.

"They're very competitive and there's no doubt they have some good players, a lot of know-how and they score goals so it'll be tough. But we aim to be a tough opponent for them too."

Ross County's failure to beat St Johnstone on Wednesday means Aberdeen will finish at worst third in the Premiership and have already secured European qualification.

McInnes is confident top scorer Adam Rooney will be fit to bolster their title challenge in the next few weeks, the striker responding well to treatment on a thigh problem.

''He's had another scan and the healing is going well," he added. "I'm confident he'll be back after the split for the last five games. He has a lot to do in terms of coming back before that.''

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