Aberdeen midfielder Graeme Shinnie has labelled his side’s trip to Hearts on Sunday as the most important game of the season.
The Dons need one more win to finish in second place in the Scottish Premiership after missing the chance to move 12 points clear of Rangers when they lost 2-0 to St Johnstone at Pittodrie on Saturday.
Shinnie is targeting victory at Tynecastle to secure that second spot, with the Dons boasting a vastly superior goal difference on the Ibrox club.
He said: “We’ve been striving for this for most of the season and we want to wrap it up as quickly as we can. It would be a great achievement if we did and if we could wrap up second place we could enjoy the remaining games and look forward to the cup final.
“It’s been a long season and the manager could rest one or two but with the cup final in mind no player wants to go two or three weeks without a game.
“We want to be in good form going into the final but nothing is done yet. We’ve got so much hard work still to do.
“In football the next game is always the most important one and Hearts is the most important game of the season for us now.”
The Dons will have to perform better at Tynecastle than they did at Pittodrie on Saturday after being punished for squandering chances by two late goals from Tommy Wright’s side.
Shinnie knows the display was not good enough but has backed his team-mates to respond.
He said: “It was a bad day at the office. We didn’t play anywhere near what we are capable of. We missed a couple of chances then let St Johnstone in by giving away two soft goals.
“This season we’ve normally been on the right end of results from games against them but we made it hard for ourselves. We didn’t play well enough. It was one of those days where we didn’t get going, the high-tempo passing wasn’t there and we allowed St Johnstone to get into the game.
“We’re still in a strong position and if we win next time we’ll be at least nine points clear with nine points left to play for.
“The focus is on league business and if we can win at Hearts we’re in a great position.
“We lost to Rangers here and bounced back by winning at St Johnstone and we need to do that again.”