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McInnes insists his players are up for the fight in Premiership race

Derek McInnes
Derek McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has told his players they will all be needed as the Dons face a fight to the finish in the race to be best of the rest in the Scottish Premiership.

The Dons moved into second place on goal difference on Saturday after a 2-0 win against Partick Thistle at Pittodrie.

Substitutes Jayden Stockley and Ryan Christie came off the bench to get the goals to earn all three points for the Reds and McInnes believes their contribution is a timely reminder of the importance of having a squad ready to perform when called upon.

He said: “We huffed and puffed for long spells against Partick but what we showed, as we’ve shown for a few years now, is that we can find a way to win a game and we did that on Saturday.

“It’s pleasing as a manager to see players come off the bench and have an impact like Jayden and Ryan did and it emphasises the importance to all the players who are on the bench of being ready to play when called upon.

“I’ve named the same starting side in recent weeks but, although we have a settled team, it is important I stress the capabilities of the subs. It can be difficult for them at times as they see the side winning and as much as they are team players they want to play their part.”

After Saturday’s win McInnes’ Reds can move three points clear of rivals Rangers if they beat Motherwell on February 15.

The Aberdeen manager knows every point is crucial but insists his players are ready for the challenge ahead.

He said: “There is a long way to go and a lot of football to be played with 15 league games remaining. We are in a fight and we’ve sensed it since the start of the season.

“The league table looks exactly how I thought it would. We expected Celtic to be ahead of the rest if they played to their potential but we believe we can be competitive and as long as we are there after those 15 games have been played I’ll be happy.”

Before the Well game next week, however, the Dons focus shifts to trying to secure their place in the last eight of the Scottish Cup. Ross County stand between the Dons and a place in the quarter-final draw and McInnes said: “If we can win the next two we will be very pleased with our work.

“We spoke on Friday about our two league games being important and in between those games we have the chance to get to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.

“I feel as though there are a lot of players playing with a lot of confidence and, even though we were not at our best on Saturday, we had enough about us to go and win the game. We’re on a good run and we will go to Dingwall with confidence.”

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