They currently trail 2-0 from the first leg in Croatia. They need at least two to take the game to extra time and three to win the game outright.
It’ll be much harder for them to do that without their star striker. Of the 13 goals Aberdeen have scored this season, the 22-year-old has netted eight of them.
McInnes needs a temporary replacement. With goals to get, could a formation and personnel change hold the key to European success for Aberdeen?
Aberdeen have to gamble on Anderson and Wilson to replace Cosgrove
It would be a risky move, but McInnes has to opt for two up front. Without Cosgrove he needs all the firepower he can get and playing one striker simply isn’t going to cut it.
Curtis Main didn’t perform well enough against St Mirren to justify a starting spot against Rijeka. Stevie May is still out in the wilderness having made zero appearances this term.
A change to a two striker formation with Bruce Anderson and James Wilson should be what McInnes opts for.
Anderson would be a risk, given that he’s not played much football for Aberdeen recently. He’s proven in his brief cameo appearances that he has a great positive attitude, with his full play centred around picking the ball up and running directly at defenders.
Last season he scored five in 14 games on loan at Dunfermline. It’s not the best record but certainly not the worst. Main only netted four in 31 for Motherwell in the league last year.
Alongside Anderson, Wilson should get the chance. He took a while to get settled in at Pittodrie, but everyone could see towards the end of his loan spell last season he had potential.
Wilson’s been the victim of a rough few years in football. After breaking into the Manchester United senior side, he failed to live up to the hype. In flashes though, he has shown he can bring pace and potentially goals to Pittodrie.
They offer something a bit different to Cosgrove. Rijeka would have to adapt to playing against two pacey strikers, rather than dominate the aerial duels again like they did in Croatia.
Given that they’ve not started any games this season, this move would obviously be a risk. It’s one worth taking though and if it works out, it could inspire the Dons to an unlikely European victory.