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Joe Harper column: Marley Watkins is the X-factor signing who will ignite Aberdeen’s attack

Marley Watkins during his time with Aberdeen.
Marley Watkins during his time with Aberdeen.

Aberdeen’s attack will be far more potent following the signing of Welsh international Marley Watkins on a permanent deal.

Securing Watkins on a two-year deal is a great signing as the attacker will be massive asset for manager Stephen Glass’ side.

Watkins was very impressive while on loan from Bristol City last season until suffering an injury in November that forced him to return to his parent club.

Aberdeen fans got a tantalising glimpse of what Watkins could bring until the unfortunate injury ended his loan spell at Pittodrie.

Now he is back and will have unfinished business at Aberdeen.

Although he will not be a prolific scorer, Watkins holds the ball up well, has real pace and will help the other forwards such as Christian Ramirez, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Austin Samuels.

Watkins can be the X-factor signing that really gets the Aberdeen attack firing on all cylinders and banging in goals this season.

I am confident United States’ international striker Christian Ramirez will benefit from the signing of Watkins and that his goal return will get even better.

Ramirez has already started promisingly with five goals and is getting into scoring positions.

I believe Ramirez will be a very talented, and productive, player for Aberdeen.

Aberdeen’s Christian Ramirez celebrates his debut goal against BK Hacken.

Ramirez is a real striker and follows chances up like I did during my career.

He follows in shots hoping that the keeper will drop the ball and he will be ready to pounce.

However, the US striker has not had the consistent delivery he needs to deliver the goal return he is capable of.

The signing of Watkins will add another dimension to Aberdeen’s attack and I’m confident there will be better delivery to Ramirez, and the other strikers, as a result.

Recently Aberdeen have been slightly lacklustre in getting crosses into the penalty area.

When I was a player forwards like Derek McKay and Arthur Graham all knew when they got the ball wide not to try to find me.

Instead they knew to get the ball into the box, because I was always on the move when they went down the wing, in the knowledge the cross would come.

What is needed is crosses of the quality of the delivery from teenage right-back Calvin Ramsay in the 2-0 Premiership defeat of Dundee United.

After nut-megging former Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds on the right, the 18-year-old delivered a powerful and dangerous cross deep towards the centre of the box.

Ramirez was there to head it home.

A striker with strong predatory instincts, Ramirez will score goals, but he needs help with the right delivery.

Manager Glass added a further dimension and option to his attack with the loan signing of Samuels from Premier League Wolves until the end of the season.

Samuels made a starting debut in the 1-1 defeat of Ross County before the international break and impressed with his energy and attacking intent.

Samuels has tremendous pace and his footballing brain works as fast as his feet.

He can run at pace with the ball and looks a talented player who, if he gets the chances, will convert them.

The addition of a clause where Aberdeen can buy Samuels at the conclusion of his loan deal could be a very shrewd move by Aberdeen.

All these attackers will deliver goals for Aberdeen with Watkins helping them.

The recent international break came at the right time for Aberdeen as they had endured a tough schedule balancing European and domestic football.

Manager Glass had admitted that meant there was very little time to work with his squad during training sessions as it was a game, recover, game cycle.

Manager Stephen Glass leads his squad through training at Cormack Park.

They have had nearly two weeks to train and recover. Crucially, the new signings have also had that time to gel and integrate into the squad.

Aberdeen went into the break on the back of five games without a win – they have to end that run with victory at Motherwell on Saturday.

Scotland’s strikers impressed in Vienna

Scotland have their World Cup qualifying destiny in their own hands following the 1-0 defeat of Austria.

That vital win in Vienna puts the Scots in pole position to finish runners-up in Group F and secure that play-off berth.

If they can defeat Israel at Hampden next month, it would be a monumental step towards the play-offs in March.

Scotland came in for flack in the aftermath of the 1-0 defeat of Moldova due to the number of chances missed.

However, strikers Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams put in impressive shifts in Vienna.

They played well together and both grafted hard up front.

After wasting so many chances against Moldova, national boss Steve Clarke said it could partly be down to not relaxing in front of goal.

When chances come at international level, you only have a second to take it.

You cannot fix snatching at chances on the training pitch –  but you can get over it.

The key is to concentrate on your game and focus on what you have to do to get a goal. I’m sure both Dykes and Adams will get goals for Scotland.

Dykes has scored in each of the last two qualifiers, which is a good return.

Hopefully he can keep that run going in the crunch qualifier against Israel at Hampden next month.

Scotland’s Lyndon Dykes makes it 1-0 from the penalty spot against Austria in the World Cup qualifier.

Scotland not only played well against Austria, they fought hard for the win.

The work rate was impressive, as was the unity and organisation.

Defensively Scotland were strong and the midfield impressed. Now they need to deliver another big win against Israel at Hampden.

Lewis Ferguson’s value has increased

Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson’s value has increased now that he is a full Scotland international.

The 22-year-old earned two caps in Scotland’s recent World Cup qualifier triple-header.

Although both appearances were late off the bench, they have elevated him up into that international player bracket – and his value for any club wanting to sign him will go up.

Lewis Ferguson makes his Scotland debut in the 2-0 World Cup qualifier loss in Denmark.

It was important for Ferguson to get caps and important for the club when it comes to selling him, because he will eventually exit Aberdeen.

The summer window closed with Ferguson, who handed in a transfer request in May, still at Pittodrie.

Now the onus is on Ferguson to turn it on for the Dons to rediscover his top form. If he does, he will eventually get his big money move – with the Reds getting a bigger fee for an international player.


This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.