Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes Kari Arnason’s experience has been a major factor behind his side’s excellent form.
The Dons have responded to last month’s shock Betfred Cup exit at Motherwell by winning three matches in a row without conceding a single goal.
Arnason enjoyed an underwhelming start to his second spell at Pittodrie after joining the club from Cypriot side Omonia in the summer.
The Icelandic international, who turned 35 last Friday, was substituted after a poor performance on his first start for the Dons in a 2-0 home win against Hamilton on the opening day of the Scottish Premiership season.
He was an unused substitute for the next five matches but has since forged a formidable partnership with 20-year-old Scott McKenna in the heart of the Dons defence.
The pair impressed again during Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Hibernian and appear certain to link up again when leaders Celtic visit Pittodrie a week today.
McInnes said: “That experience was part of the attraction of wanting to work with him and bring him here.
“When we were losing international players and others with a good level of experience, such as Niall McGinn, Jonny Hayes, Ryan Jack and Ash Taylor, I knew we had to try and replace that.
“I have always liked to have experience at the back.
“I had it with Michael Duberry at St Johnstone and Russell Anderson in my first year here.
“Having a decent level of experience is important because those players make good decisions and I think defenders get better with age.
“Any player who has been able to represent their country so often, as Arnie has, brings a level of experience that can only benefit a team.
“He is a lot happier, as we are, with his performances of late.
“He has done very well and been a big influence on results.”
McInnes also feels the Dons can benefit from Arnason’s desire to be a prominent part of the Iceland World Cup squad following their qualification for next summer’s tournament in Russia.
The Aberdeen manager added: “We have that interest because he is our own player and I think the Aberdeen supporters took a keen interest in both of their recent games. They achieved a big result in Turkey with a 3-0 win and then managed to get the job done with a 2-0 victory against Kosovo.
“Qualifying for a first World Cup is a fantastic story and it is something we hope we get the benefit of in the short-term.
“Hopefully, long-term, he has that focus for the World Cup.
“He will want to go into the World Cup in good form and looking to do well in it.
“Hopefully, we will get the benefit over the course of the season.”