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Dons captain Joe Lewis pleased with pre-season progress ahead of season-opener

Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis.
Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis.

Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis insists the Dons are ready for Saturday’s Scottish Premiership season opener against Rangers at Pittodrie.

Craig Bryson gave Aberdeen the lead in this home friendly against Hibs after half-time – his first goal for the Dons. But Darryl Horgan levelled late on.

Bryson profited from good work involving Kennedy, McGinn and Ojo to fire the ball through the legs of Marciano from an angle.

Aberdeen have not played a competitive fixture since defeating Hibs 3-1 at Pittodrie on March 7.

But Lewis is confident the Dons are fully prepared to make a positive start to the season against the Light Blues.

He said: “Saturday was a really good game. We would have loved to have kept a clean sheet but it was a great strike from them at the end to deny us.

“It was a really good exercise and it felt realistic and almost like a league game.

“We got a good feel for how Pittodrie is going to be for the game on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it. We have had good preparation.”

Saturday’s match will be played behind closed doors but Lewis says the players will not be lacking any motivation. He said: “If any of us find it difficult to get up for a game against Rangers then they shouldn’t be here. That is not going to be a problem, the lads will be up for it.

“It was a really good workout and it felt realistic. Everyone is looking forward to the game. It is a great start.”

The Dons keeper added: “It is going to be different with no supporters there.

“We are all aware of that and we have had a good feel for what Pittodrie will be like on a match-day. It is different in the changing rooms and the whole build-up.

“But the last couple of games have been really good exercises.

“We have got a good week of training now and everyone is looking forward to the start of the season. There will be different challenges this season.

“It will be the teams who adapt to that the best who will get off to the best starts.

“We want to be a team that is right at the top of the league from the off.”

Lewis felt Jonny Hayes settled in nicely to the Dons starting line-up.

He added: “He is looking sharp and ready to go. He is a great addition.

“It is great we have pretty much the same guys as last season.

“A lot of clubs have lost a few players and, given the climate, it is not always easy to bring players in.

“We have kept the nucleus of the squad together and not lost any names yet.

“We need to keep that strong squad together and give ourselves a good start to the season.

“It is going to be different but we are all prepared for it and looking forward to it.”

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