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Byrne on his way out?

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Byrne new contract hopes fading


Injury problems could cost Irishman as Calderwood ponders defender’s Pittodrie future


By Paul Third


Published: 11/03/2008


Time is running out for Aberdeen defender Richie Byrne to prove himself worthy of a new contract at Pittodrie.


The Irishman has been dogged by injuries in his three years with the club and a serious hamstring problem has meant he has been restricted to just 17 appearances this season, 13 of which came in his only injury-free run from November to January.


Dons manager Jimmy Calderwood has not offered the player a new contract yet and, with no timescale in place for a return for the former Dunfermline player, fears one may not be made.


He said: “Richie is obviously a worry and he is a few weeks away from returning.


“We are still trying to get to the bottom of why the injury keeps flaring up and I hope for the player’s sake it is not a long-term thing.


“He has had a few injuries in his time here but there has never been a doubt about his ability. It is a fitness issue as far as Richie is concerned and it leaves me with a big decision which I am going to have to make soon.â€


Byrne was joined once more in the Pittodrie treatment room by team-mate Jamie Smith after the player’s return from hamstring problems lasted just 31 minutes of the 1-1 draw with Celtic in Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final.


The loss of an injury-time equaliser to the cup holders deflated the spirit among the Aberdeen players but Calderwood has urged his team to remain focused for the replay a week today.


He said: “We ran Celtic so close, scored a quality goal and Artur Boruc made some terrific saves before they equalised.


“The players in the dressing-room were in disbelief but I have told them not to let their heads go down.


“We had a young team out on the pitch and the effort from every one of them was immense. The feeling is still one of huge disappointment but we must remember we are still in this competition.


“We have got to get on with it instead of thinking about the late equaliser.â€


Despite failing to win their last three matches, Calderwood has been en-couraged greatly by the performance levels of his players and believes they can mount a strong end to the campaign despite being without several experienced campaigners.


He said: “The most pleasing thing for me has been the fact we have played Mother-well, Rangers and Celtic in the last three games and we should have won every one of them.


“That tells me there is a level of consistency about the team again which is very pleasing considering we are missing six or seven experienced players.


“Take Sunday for example. We stopped Shunsuke Nakamura and Aiden McGeady from playing.


“Karim Touzani came in and did well. He is the ideal player for the role we needed him to do and along with Scott Severin, who I thought was fabulous, the two of them restricted Celtic’s midfield from playing.â€

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