It's the battle for supremacy of the A96 as the teams from either end of that road face off at 3:00pm. Yes, we visit Pittodrie on Saturday, having gained our first points of the season last time out against St Johnstone just before the international break.
During that international break, Jake Mulraney and Billy King had some game time for their U21 International sides and Owain Fon Williams was on the bench for Wales in their impressive opening game of the World Cup campaign where they thrashed Moldova 4-0.
News this week that Josh Meekings has been offered a two year contract extension has been welcomed by the fans. 24 year old Josh had forged a great partnership with the reliable Gary Warren over the last few years and he was sorely missed last season through injury. Foran is keen to keep Josh in the squad and the ball is now in his court.
What have the Dons been up to over the holidays? Let's see who Derek McInnes has brought in over the summer. No surprise to us, but Miles Storey was taken on with Simon Church and David Goodwillie moving on. Another striker Jayden Stockley was also added from Bournmouth. At the back, Joe Lewis (Cardiff City) and Neil Alexander (Hearts) replace Danny Ward in goal, (not at the same time). Callum Morris joins from relegated Dundee United and Anthony O'Connor comes in from Burton Albion. That looks to have added strength in depth to an already solid squad for the Dons. Other notable outs are Willo Flood returning to the Arabs, keeper Scott Brown offski and Barry Robson given up, presumably too olde. Lawrence Shankland has moved to St Mirren and lot's of other minor players have also moved along. The latest addition is midfielder James Maddison from Norwich City, on loan until January.
The Dons failed to beat us last season as we recorded two wins and a draw against them. A tremendous turnaround from the previous season when Aberdeen won all four encounters. The best Aberdeen could do was a 2-2 draw at Pittodrie on Boxing Day when a dubious stoppage time penalty from Adam Rooney earned them a point. Liam Polworth and a Greg Tansey spot kick had given Inverness a comfortable lead but we invited the Dons onto us and a McGinn goal threw the Reds a lifeline from a rare Gary Warren error.They took full advantage late into time added on to level matters. We went our separate ways after the split as Aberdeen finished runners up whilst we were the best of the rest.
As the transfer window came to a close last week, Richie Foran has secured a loan deal until Xmas for Fulham youngster Larnell Cole, a 23 year old forward minded midfielder. We have also added former St Johnstone defender Brad McKay (23) to our squad on a two year deal as we look to get more cover for the loss of Kevin McNaughton who will likely miss the whole season. And, with Ryan Esson out for a possible six weeks due to an elbow injury, Cammy Mackay has been recalled from his loan at Elgin City.
We look to have assembled a reasonable squad at our disposal now and I am convinced our season will get better once everyone gets to know each other and they all reach match sharpness. We may not quite be there yet, but there were encouraging signs against St Johnstone. Lonsana Doumbouya looks like he will be a handful for defences and with wide players available in Jake Mulraney, Aaron Doran and Billy King, then the future is bright as we build on top of our previously resilient defence and robust midfield.
Inverness will be without Kevin McNaughton for the season and Ryan Esson for over a month. Cover has been drafted in and with Meekings returned to the heart of the defence, things are looking up. Horner played at right back against St Johnstone and should continue, although he could face a torrid time if Jonny Hayes is involved. David Raven would be a tried and tested replacement should Foran prefer that option. Brad Mckay is up to speed and ready to go according to Richie, so there's another option should Foran hand the former St Johnstone defender his debut. Here him talk about his arrival.
Larnell Cole is another new arrival and he is talking to Caley Jags TV ahead of the Aberdeen game.
Aberdeen have had the added bonus of early competitive games in Euro competition to hone their skills. On the flip side, they have only one win in their four league games so far beating Partick Thistle 2-1. Draws against Hearts and St Johnstone gave them four points before they were thumped 4-1 at Parkhead last time out. Hayes could return after missing out at Celtic and Peter Pawlett is in full training, but Mark Reynolds will be suspended after being sent off in that game and skipper Ryan Jack is out for at least six weeks after knee surgery.
And last, but not least, here's Richie looking forward to the action. All video from Caley Jags TV, the official channel of ICT FC
tm4tj Prediction:- I won't get too excited after beating St Johnstone, but what was historically a cagey affair turned out to be a highly entertaining game with plenty of incident. A cavalry charge near the end gave us a deserved victory and broke our duck and gave us some hope for the season ahead. With a game against Celtic coming up next week, we need to dig deep here, and I will go with the optimistic approach and say we will take something back from Pittodrie. Let's hope it's not a thrashing!