ABERDEEN Ladies manager Allan Smith doesn’t have his problems to seek ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Cup tie against Glasgow City.

The northerners will be missing seven first-team players – but Smith believes they are still in with a chance of toppling the holders.

The match has an added resonance in that it will be Scott Booth’s first match in his old Granite City stomping ground since replacing Eddie Wolecki Black as City head coach. It’s potentially the toughest of his first three games in charge.

Aberdeen had eight players out last Sunday, but still managed to beat Rangers 2-0 in the league. The win took them up to third place in the SWPL and, having cemented a closer bond with the men’s club, they are aiming to be a force in the women’s game.

“It has been our best season to date,” said Smith, a former Deveronvale player and Sunnybank manager. “We’re extremely pleased with the start we’ve made.

“I believe other teams, including us, are getting closer to Glasgow City. There is a cracking set-up at Hibs, and Rangers are getting behind their team – Celtic as well.”

Smith is in his third season as manager. The club have upped their evening training sessions from two a week to four in order to achieve parity with City.

Smith accepts his side are not likely to catch either the champions or Hibs, both of whom are 13 points ahead with eight games remaining. But, for the first time, the top two in Scotland should qualify for the 2016-17 women’s Champions League – and that’s a prize Aberdeen would like to grasp sooner rather than later.

“We’re sitting in a wealthy city and if we were playing Champions League football, sponsorship and such like would become a bit easier,” Smith said. “The buy-in from the club itself would probably increase.”

Although there were no Aberdeen players at the three-day Scotland training camp held earlier this week, Smith believes things will change soon given the improved fitness of his squad.

His captain, Rachael Small, was the Scotland right-back until she turned her back on international football two years ago after winning 28 caps. Still just 23 and working for a law firm in Aberdeen, Small remains a top player. “In my opinion she is in the top three of four in Scotland,” Smith said.

“She made a decision that she wanted just to play club football and she has other commitments in Aberdeen as well. She’s very influential for us, and consistent week in, week out.”

Other important players include striker Rebecca Dempster, who looked a certainty for regular Scotland honours when she was younger and is now coming back to her best, and central defenders Susan Murray and Melissa Aitkenhead.

The latter, unfortunately for Aberdeen, is suspended after being sent off against Hibs a fortnight ago.

She was the SWPL’s player of the month for June and Smith said: “Melissa has been transformed over the last two years and is an example of the massive development of the players at the club.”

Despite their respective footballing careers in and around Aberdeen, Smith’s first encounter with Booth will be at Heathryfold Park tomorrow. “He’s a name coming into women’s game and that can only be a positive,” Smith said.

“As usual we will be massive underdogs and we fully accept that. But our recent games against City have been much closer and there is a great buzz after Sunday’s result.”

City will be without new signing from Rangers, Sarah Clelland, who is cup-tied.