Aberdeen's hopes for Munich tie hit by spate of injuries

Aberdeen are facing their biggest European game for more than 20 years in the midst of an injury crisis after five players were ruled out for the visit of Bayern Munich.

Richie Byrne, Richard Foster, Jackie McNamara, Derek Young and Jamie Smith will all miss Thursday's Uefa Cup last-32 tie. And Jimmy Calderwood's team could be hit further for the first leg if Barry Nicholson, Zander Diamond and Darren Mackie do not overcome knocks.

Diamond aggravated an ankle problem in Sunday's 5-1 loss to Celtic while Nicholson sustained a knee injury and Mackie suffered a recurrence of the hamstring strain that has blighted his season.

"We have got big doubts about Nicholson, Diamond and Mackie," Calderwood said. "But, knowing the character of those three, we are hopeful they will play." Byrne, Foster and Smith all miss out with hamstring injuries while Young and McNamara picked up knocks in the Pittodrie defeat.

The loss of the experience of McNamara and Smith is a particularly harsh blow as both played in the Uefa Cup final for Celtic in 2003, and Smith grabbed a double in the 4-0 win over Copenhagen last month.

Calderwood said: "It's obviously five big players but that means we have still got 21 fit – which has not been the case much of the time. Although they are all big names, it has eased a little bit. But that's football, we have just got to get on with it, we have a wonderful game to look forward to."

Teenagers such as Chris Maguire and the on-loan pair Josh Walker and Sone Aluko are now in line to play against the tournament favourites. And Calderwood has urged them to seize their opportunity.

He said: "I remember a long, long time ago making my debut for Birmingham and I think my third match was against the great Leeds team, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles, all them boys. My fifth game was at Anfield against Liverpool.

"It was fabulous, you have no fear, you just go and enjoy it – you have nothing whatsoever to lose. It stands you in good stead for the rest of your career. If these lads are involved I'm sure they will make the most of it."

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