Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has backed his players to dig deep and get the three points they need to clinch second place in the Scottish Premiership.
The Dons missed out on the chance to all but tie up runners-up spot on Saturday when they slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by St Johnstone.
It was a poor display from McInnes’ Reds but with a nine-point lead on Rangers and a vastly superior goal difference with four games remaining one more win will be enough for the Pittodrie men.
The Dons have struggled in post-split fixtures in the last two seasons but McInnes believes the focal point of the Scottish Cup final against Celtic on May 27 and the chance to split Celtic and Rangers will provide the motivation for a strong response to Saturday’s loss.
The Aberdeen manager, whose players meet Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday, said: “It is important we have an edge to our play for the Scottish Cup final and the remaining games will prepare us well for that.
“We have spoken often enough about our objectives for the season and how the season ends is how your season is defined.
“We want to do well in the league and hopefully our league form will help us in the cup final.”
Despite Saturday’s defeat by Saints second place remains firmly in Aberdeen’s grasp but McInnes knows the elusive victory he craves will not come easily.
He said: “No one is going to give it to us and we have to bring a performance we are happy with. We have to be honest and say on Saturday we were not anywhere near our best.
“But, at the start of the season, if we had been offered four games to go and nine points clear with a far superior goal difference we would have taken that.
“We are in a strong position and, while Saturday was disappointing, we don’t normally go through periods where we don’t win enough games. We are more than capable of winning games in the run in and I am confident we will do that.”
“We did not mention it (the Rangers result) before the game. We just spoke about going out and winning the game for ourselves. We prepared yesterday as we normally do and did not speak about other games then. We just had to concentrate on our own performance. Unfortunately, it was not enough to win the game but I think the scoreline is a bit harsh on us.
“St Johnstone have come here and worked away well and they have taken advantage of a situation and once they got in front I thought they were very comfortable.”