Aberdeen assistant manager Tony Docherty believes competition for places in the side has never been tougher.
The Dons have made a modest start to the Premiership campaign, with five points from their first four fixtures ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Caley Thistle.
The deadline-day signing of attacking midfielder James Maddison on loan from Norwich City and the return of Jonny Hayes (hamstring) and Peter Pawlett (groin) from injury mean Docherty and manager Derek McInnes have plenty of options for this weekend’s match.
The only absentees for the game will be captain Ryan Jack, who is set for six weeks on the sidelines after knee surgery, and defender Mark Reynolds, who misses out through suspension.
Docherty believes the Aberdeen squad is as strong as it has been during his three years at the club.
He said: “We try to improve the squad every year and we think we are doing that.
“We have got good options but it is important the players who get a jersey on a Saturday do what they can to keep it.
“The players who are not in the team will be doing everything they can in training to stake a claim and that competitiveness breeds a winning mentality.
“We have got a lot of good players in the squad but only 11 can play on a Saturday and it is every player’s responsibility to do all they can to get in that team.”
At times last season the Dons were overly reliant on forward Adam Rooney, who netted 20 goals in 35 appearances before missing 11 games towards the end of the campaign because of a thigh injury.
But Docherty is confident they possess much more firepower this season.
He said: “We had to make sure when we were coming into this campaign and fighting on four fronts that we weren’t overly reliant on Adam.
“We bolstered the attacking options and we have four forwards in Miles Storey, Jayden Stockley, Wes Burns and Adam supported by Niall McGinn, Peter Pawlett, Kenny McLean, James Maddison and Jonny Hayes.
“It is important we have options as it is a long campaign.
“Injuries and suspensions will play a part so you want to have a strong squad to make sure you keep up that intensity in attack.”