Aberdeen V Rangers at Pittodrie Stadium : Match Preview

24 September 2016
Aberdeen V Rangers - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Ignore hype and focus on football against Rangers - Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has told his players to ignore the hype and focus on the football ahead of their eagerly-awaited game against Rangers.

The teams meet for the first time since Rangers were liquidated in 2012 and Pittodrie is sold out for the Ladbrokes Premiership encounter on Sunday.

Previous Aberdeen-Rangers fixtures always carried an edge on and off the park over the years and absence has done nothing to ease the rivalry.

The game carries extra significance given Aberdeen are looking to maintain their position as Celtic's main challengers following Rangers' promotion, and McInnes wants his side to be composed when necessary on Sunday.

He told Red TV: "It's important that we see it as a game. It's a game that has been eagerly anticipated. It's always a bit tasty for both sets of players and both sets of supporters, but it is only a game.

"It's a game we want to win and we will concentrate on the game. The atmosphere will be great, it's a sell-out, good rivalry between the supporters, but the game is what it's about for us."

Winger Jonny Hayes (hamstring) is a major doubt and skipper Ryan Jack (knee) is still out.

Rangers will come up against another wall of noise in the Granite City this weekend.

It is their first visit in four years but the mischievous Red Army are planning a minute's applause to welcome the Ibrox side "to Pittodrie for the first time". The Dons support are planning the jape for the 12th minute, a reference to the Light Blues' 2012 liquidation meltdown.

But the level of animosity directed at his team and their supporters no longer surprises boss Mark Warburton, who said: "I used to say to people: 'Who are we playing? What's the relationship like?' Now I just don't bother asking. I know the answer.

"Are the players getting used to the hostility they are going to face at these away grounds? I think they are getting there.

"It's interesting when you speak to some of the new guys like Clint Hill, Niko Kranjcar and Matt Gilks. They are all very experienced and seasoned pros.

"But they have been shocked by the rivalries and the apparent hatred from certain fans.

"These are guys who have played in the Premier League for years and years and have a number of international caps, but they are now getting used to how things are up here.

"You have to recognise what's coming and prepare yourself for it. You have to understand it. It's an important game for both clubs.

"They have had a tremendous run of form in the last few seasons and we know about the job Derek has done and the quality within his squad. It's a tough place to go.

"I'm well aware of the rivalry. I'm well aware of the welcome we will apparently receive.

"But we have to enjoy these games. We respect Aberdeen for the quality of side they are and what they've done in recent years and the real threat they pose.

"We need to go there, hopefully in good form, and enjoy the encounter."

Midfielder Jordan Rossiter misses out with a calf strain, while Joey Barton is still serving a club suspension.

Striker Kenny Miller will feature despite being arrested in connection with an alleged brawl.

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