Aberdeen V Hearts at Pittodrie Stadium : Match Preview

11 May 2016
Aberdeen V Hearts - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Simon Church out for Aberdeen's clash with Hearts

Aberdeen will be without striker Simon Church for the Ladbrokes Premiership contest against Hearts.

Church aggravated an ankle injury at Celtic Park on Sunday while Adam Rooney remains out with a thigh problem.

Cammy Smith (back) and Peter Pawlett (broken arm) are also missing.

Aberdeen are sure of second spot but are determined to improve on last season's league performance ahead of their penultimate match of the campaign.

"We are going to try and beat the record we set last year," assistant Tony Docherty said.

"It was a record outwith the Old Firm to accrue 75 points over the season.

"We now sit on 71 so we are keen to better that. So the game means an awful lot to us."

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson wants his players to set a marker for next season when they face the Dons.

Hearts were three goals down after their first 45 minutes of action against the Dons this season, but have steadily improved in their meetings with the team just above them in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

After Jordan McGhee's late handball gifted Aberdeen a Pittodrie win, Hearts have inflicted two damaging defeats, knocking the Reds out of the William Hill Scottish Cup and delivering a major blow to their title hopes.

Neilson told Hearts TV: "It's a big game up at Pittodrie. We went there recently and performed well. It was 0-0 until a couple of minutes to go and we gave away a soft goal.

"So far this season we have played each other four times and it's been two wins to us and two wins to Aberdeen.

"So it's a chance to go up there and get the bragging rights and hopefully carry that momentum forward into next season."

It is little surprise that Neilson is already thinking of next season, both because Hearts are assured of third place and because their Europa League campaign kicks off next month.

So Neilson is making plans to ensure his players are ready to hit the ground running.

"It's extremely important, especially this pre-season," he said at the club's Riccarton training ground.

"The players come back June 15 and the first game is June 30. So there is only a six-week break between the last game and the first game.

"So this place will be open three days a week. The players will come in and train, they will get their holiday when they take it, for a fortnight, but other than that they will be training right through.

"It's important that, when we get to that first game on the 30th, they are ready to go."

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