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Aberdeen manager remains optimistic despite defeat by leaders Celtic

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his side can bounce back against Partick Thistle this weekend.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his side can bounce back against Partick Thistle this weekend.

Aberdeen midfielder Jonny Hayes is set to commit his long-term future to the Dons by signing a new deal at Pittodrie.

Championship club Cardiff City had three bids rejected for the Republic of Ireland international during the January transfer window.

The 29-year-old still has 18 months left on his current contract but the Dons are working to finalise a deal that will keep the former Caley Thistle player at Pittodrie until at least 2019.

It is understood the Dons and Hayes are close to reaching an agreement that would end speculation of a possible move to England.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his players should not feel overly despondent after their five-game winning run was halted by the Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic.

A Dedryck Boyata header inflicted a first defeat of 2017 on the Dons, who remain third in the table, two points behind Rangers with a game in hand.

Unbeaten Celtic, who have won 22 matches and drawn one, hold a 25-point gap at the summit, meaning second-placed Rangers are just as close to the leaders as they are to bottom side Caley Thistle.

McInnes accepts his side is effectively playing in a four-team league with Rangers, Hearts and St Johnstone in the race to finish best of the rest behind Brendan Rodgers’ side.

The Aberdeen manager said: “I think the difference in Celtic from this season compared to last season is clear to see. The points tally they are going to amass could be a record total.

“The fight isn’t with Celtic. The fight is to make sure we get second spot. We are in our own league within a league. That is the way it has panned out.

“There is a fight at the bottom of the table and a fight to get in the top six. We are in a fight to finish second with three other teams. I feel we are good enough and competitive enough to be there at the death. Hopefully, we can show that over the rest of the season. There were a lot of good performances against Celtic to follow on from where we have been.

“We had won five out of five with some strong individual displays and I thought we had that again on Wednesday. We didn’t win the game, so it is important we try to get back to winning ways on Saturday against Partick.”

McInnes felt his players were unfortunate not to earn a draw at Parkhead. He added: “The disappointment, frustration and anger is there that we have lost a goal from a set-play.

“We aren’t a small team and we don’t lose many goals at set-plays.”

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