Niall McGinn is used to being regarded as Aberdeen’s set-piece specialist – but there was no one happier than the Northern Ireland international when James Maddison curled home a last-minute winner against Rangers last Sunday.
McGinn has already scored one free kick this season, a delightful effort to help the Dons to a 2-1 victory against Partick Thistle at Pittodrie in August.
But he had been substituted by manager Derek McInnes when James Tavernier was penalised for a trip on the advancing Jonny Hayes 25 yards from goal in the final minute.
On-loan Norwich City midfielder Maddison assumed the responsibilities and proved he is also a highly capable exponent of a dead ball with a sublime strike that kissed the post on its way into the net beyond a despairing Wes Foderingham to seal a memorable Pittodrie win for Aberdeen.
The Dons will look to build on that success when they face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park this afternoon and McGinn admits there is now some stiff competition to get on free kick duty.
McGinn said: “In recent weeks both James and I have been practising.
“I scored one a few weeks ago and he scored against Rangers.
“There’s different positions on the pitch where different players will fancy their chances and I’m sure there’ll be chances where me, him or Kenny McLean will be hitting them for different reasons.
“There’ll be no fall-outs, no bitchiness or whatever you like to call it and it was just unbelievable seeing him score that one last Sunday.
“Who takes the free kick depends on a few different reasons, such as how you’re playing in the game or how you’re feeling.
“I was off the pitch when we got the free kick against Rangers.
“James is a confident lad and he’s obviously showed his ability since coming to the club and for him to take responsibility and do that in the last minute of the game was sensational.”
And the 29-year-old, who was included in Michael O’Neill’s squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Germany, believes opposition teams will be very wary of conceding needless free kicks to Aberdeen in the final third.
He added: “It can’t be a good thing if our opponents don’t know who’s taking them.
“We are delighted to have guys with the calibre of Kenny McLean and James Maddison hitting the free kicks.
“Knowing James and knowing myself we’ll always be confident to hit free kicks.
“Whoever it may be, we’ll always step up and hopefully score more.”