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Derek McInnes hopes Aberdeen pilot event can be step towards normality

Aberdeen v Chikhura Sachkhere – UEFA Europa League – Second Qualifying Round – Second Leg – Pittodrie Stadium
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Derek McInnes admits he has no idea when he will next see a full Pittodrie – but the Aberdeen boss hopes Saturday’s test event is the first step on the road back to normality.

The Dons have been given permission to welcome in 300 fans as they host Kilmarnock this weekend.

Reds chiefs are also hoping to trial their coronavirus safety measures when they welcome Motherwell to the Granite City on September 20.

Those plans have been thrust into doubt, however, after the Scottish Government pushed back an indicative date for the wider return of supporters to Scottish grounds until next month.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has slammed the brakes on the easing of lockdown restrictions in response to a rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

But McInnes is retaining hopes Scottish football can leave the sight of empty stands in the rear-view mirror.

“I’ve no idea,” he replied after being asked when he thought Pittodrie would next see a full house. “I can’t answer that question to be honest.

“We hope it’s sooner rather than later, but I think tests like Saturday’s will be important.

“Maybe then we can get more supporters in the following week and we can build. Then hopefully, as we go along, we get closer to what we want it to be.

“I think we’re still a bit away from (a full stadium) but hopefully we can get closer to that than where we are now.

“Saturday is a step in the right direction. It’s a reward for the supporters for their perseverance and loyalty.

“Hopefully we can get through Saturday’s game with no dramas and that would give everyone the confidence to increase numbers as we go along.

“Maybe this is the start of getting back to what we’re used to.

“We don’t want having no fans to become the norm because it does become sanitised (as an experience) with no supporters there.

“The emotion of football is very important. Players make decisions because of crowd pressure and the excitement and adrenaline that playing in front of fans can only give.

“A lot of the games have been quite clinical so far, but you need that crowd there to bring out the best in players.”

The fans who will be in attendance have been urged not to shout or sing in a bid to combat the virus’ spread.

And McInnes knows that is harder said than done.

He smiled: “It’s difficult to control. It’s an emotional game. It’s a normal reaction to respond to your team scoring or referees’ decisions.

“Counting to 10 in those situations isn’t the easiest thing to do for people involved in football.

“I’ll certainly be shouting and bawling and I’m sure so will a lot of other people. It will be difficult for the fans, but the overriding thing is that the fans will be desperate to demonstrate that what is being asked of them is what they will get.”