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Aberdeen defender Ash Taylor happy to put talks about his future on hold to focus on the battle to finish third

Ash Taylor during an Aberdeen Training Session at Cormack Park this week.
Ash Taylor during an Aberdeen Training Session at Cormack Park this week.

Defender Ash Taylor is ready to put thoughts of his own future on hold to focus on Aberdeen’s battle to finish third in the Premiership.

The 30-year-old centre-back’s contract expires in the summer.

However, Taylor’s priority is on the bid to overtake Hibernian in third, which could move the Dons close to the dream of lucrative Europa League group stage action.

The winner of this season’s Scottish Cup will qualify for the 2021-22 Europa League at the play-off round stage – just one two-legged tie away from the groups.

Aberdeen have failed to progress as far as the play-offs in seven consecutive seasons under manager Derek McInnes.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, with football below the Championship currently suspended, it is becoming increasingly likely the Scottish Cup will not be completed this season.

If that is the case that Europa League play-off spot will then go to the team that finishes in third place.

Taylor, who is set to start against Celtic at Parkhead today, said: “If we get to third spot, we know the rewards to the club could be massive.

“There is an incentive to try to get to that group stage of European competition.

“If we can finish third, we know it means less games to get to that stage.”

Ash Taylor during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park this week.

The Scottish team that enters into the Europa League play-offs next season will be guaranteed football until the turn of the year.

Should they exit the Europa League at the play-offs they would then parachute directly into the group stages of the new Europa Conference League.

Taylor’s contract set to expire

Should Aberdeen qualify for Europe next season, Taylor still does not know if he will be at the club to experience it.

His contract expires at the end of the season – but he is willing to delay any talks to concentrate fully on the fight for third.

On his future, Taylor said: “The gaffer and I have a good relationship.

“We get on well, so we will have that conversation when the time is right.

“I am just concentrating on the football.

“I know if I take care of myself and my performances are up there then it will take care of itself.

“We are at the business end of the season.

“I just need to concentrate on doing well for Aberdeen and trying to help the team get that third place.”

The Dons today face a Celtic team hunting for a new manager following the resignation of Neil Lennon earlier this week.

Managerial change at Celtic

Lennon’s former assistant John Kennedy will be in the dugout as interim boss today.

Neil Lennon is gone.

Regardless of the managerial upheaval, Taylor still anticipates a tough test at Parkhead.

He said: “Celtic are still a good side, they’ve got good players and we know they’re a threat.

“We need to know what we’re doing in terms of getting at their weaknesses.

“That’s what we plan to do and we’ll go there looking to get those three points.

“We need to put in a winning performance as we need the points.”

Today will be the second time Aberdeen have faced Celtic at Parkhead this month having lost 1-0 just 11 days ago.

David Turnbull netted a first half long-range strike to defeat the Dons.

However, Aberdeen’s loan striker Florian Kamberi hit the post and the Reds had a strong penalty claim for hand-ball turned down.

Taylor said: “We can take a lot of confidence from the second half of the game against Celtic.

“Also from the win over Kilmarnock (1-0). We’re going into the Celtic game with a bit of confidence and looking to get the three points we need.”

Aberdeen trail third-placed Hibs by four points with the Easter Road club also holding a game in hand.

It was good to see the ball hit the back of the net, we got the monkey off our back.

“The win was also important and it was three points that we need at this stage of the season.”

Ash Taylor

With only eight games remaining, Taylor accepts wins are priority – performance secondary.

The Dons ended a club-record six-game run without a goal when beating Kilmarnock last weekend.

Taylor said: “It was good to see the ball hit the back of the net, we got the monkey off our back.

Aberdeen’s Callum Hendry celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 against Kilmarnock with Andy Considine, Ash Taylor and Connor McLennan.

“The win was also important and it was three points that we need at this stage of the season.

“Every game between now until the end of the season it’s all about results, not so much about performance.

“As long as you get it over the line and get those three points, that’s the most important thing.”

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