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Derek McInnes looking to extend Dons lead at top of the league

Derek McInnes
Derek McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes says his Dons are relishing the challenge of staying at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic have taken a week off from league duty to take part in a tournament in Gran Canaria which means the Dons can move four points clear of Ronny Deila’s side with a win at St Mirren today.

Dealing with the demands of being at the top of the table is a new pressure for the Dons to deal with but McInnes is confident his Reds, who have won seven in a row, are up to the task.

McInnes said: “I don’t think Celtic see it as pressure. That’s just part and parcel of being Celtic. They are expected to win things.

“From our point of view, I don’t think anyone expected us to win seven games in a row.

“I get that because we’ve not done that very often in our history. But we have won those games and it has allowed us to get where we are. For that to continue is a big ask but it’s something we’ll be striving to achieve.

“The next challenge is to win eight in a row. If we continue to win games, then we will be satisfied that we’re improving as a team.

“I do see the improvement in us from last season and that’s all I was looking for at the start of the season, regardless of where we finish in the league.

“I believe that, while we’ve got this bit of momentum, it’s important to try to channel it properly.”

Aberdeen squandered a two-goal lead in their previous meeting against St Mirren. Peter Pawlett and Mark Reynolds had put the Dons in front but the Buddies fought back to earn a point thanks to goals from Callum Ball and Kenny McLean.

The Dons have the chance to record an eighth consecutive clean sheet in the league but McInnes says the whole team deserves credit for the mean defensive record.

He said: “We would all recognise that, although the spotlight falls on the back four and the goalkeeper, the clean sheet run is a reflection of the whole team.

“There is a lot of hard work being done ahead of the defence and then ahead of the midfield again, with forwards putting people under pressure and trying to keep opposition chances to a minimum.

“Apart from the Inverness game apart, the number of saves Scott Brown has had to make has been minimal.

“For that to happen it is down to a strong team performance just as it is when the team is not scoring a lot of goals – that is a reflection of the whole team not just the forwards.”

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