Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes Niall McGinn can play a pivotal part for the Dons in the second half of the season and remains hopeful the Northern Ireland international will commit his long-term future to the club.
McGinn produced a man of the match performance in Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of League 1 side Stranraer to set up a last-16 Scottish Cup encounter against Ross County.
The 29-year-old, who represented his country at last summer’s European Championships, was granted an extra week off during this month’s winter break, spending the time on holiday in San Francisco rather than heading to Dubai for Aberdeen’s mid-season training camp.
McGinn is out of contract at the end of the season and Hearts have already spoken with the player’s representatives to discuss the possibility of the attacking midfielder swapping Pittodrie for Tynecastle next season.
But McInnes is optimistic the former Celtic and Brentford City player will prolong his stay at the club.
He said: “Niall’s level of performance and his goals against Stranraer were excellent.
“It was great to have him back.
“We have got Niall for the rest of the season and we are hopeful we can keep him beyond that.
“Niall is very happy here and he has never indicated that he wants to leave.
“He has always said he is not in a rush to commit. He wants to see what is happening but I think we have as good a chance as anybody.
“If he decides to stay in Scotland then I think we will win that fight.
“Niall is greatly appreciated by everybody at the club and his teammates.
“We just want to get the best performances out of him, the performances he is capable of, and the match against Stranraer was a step towards that.”
McInnes, meanwhile, was pleased his side strolled through their first competitive match of 2017 after a three-week break with the Dons proving too strong for part-timers Stranraer on Saturday.
The Dons face Dundee at Pittodrie on Friday with Paul Hartley’s side looking to bounce back after being dumped out of the Scottish Cup by Championship strugglers St Mirren.
The Aberdeen manager added: “Considering we hadn’t played for over three weeks it was a good level of performance.
“There could have been some rustiness there and perhaps there were one or two signs of it early on with our finishing.
“Overall, it was a good day’s work.
“Hopefully we can get a similar level of performance against Dundee.”