Aberdeen midfielder Gary Mackay-Steven hopes to repay Derek McInnes’ faith in him by helping Aberdeen reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
Aberdeen must score in Bosnia and Herzegovina after NK Siroki Brijeg grabbed a crucial away goal in Thursday’s 1-1 draw at Pittodrie.
Apollon Limassol, of Cyprus, or Moldova’s Zaria Balti await the winners of the tie, with the Cypriot club in pole position after their 3-0 first-leg win on Thursday.
Mackay-Steven, who joined the Dons from Celtic on Wednesday, was surprised to start just 24 hours after joining the club and is hungry for more action after making his debut.
He said: “Starting was a little bit surprising but I was delighted that the manager showed faith in me. I went for as long as I could but needed an oxygen tank by the end.
“It was encouraging that the manager was willing to throw me in at the deep end. I can’t thank him enough firstly for getting the deal done and then for showing the faith in me to play me from the start.
“It was amazing for me and I look forward to repaying him.”
Mackay-Steven believes the lack of match practice was a factor in Thursday’s result but is confident the game time will help the Dons for the second leg.
He said: “Early on in the season you are never at your top level. You are dusting off the cobwebs and getting rid of the rust.
“These minutes help everyone get that little bit more match sharp. We’ll be better for that experience. We’ll be better prepared.”
The 26-year-old was a bit-part player at Parkhead but, following his move to Pittodrie, Mackay-Steven insists he is a man with a point to prove as he bids to get his career back on track.
He said: “That’s part of the reason for coming to Pittodrie As much as I enjoyed it at Celtic, ultimately a player wants to play in games. I wasn’t happy being on the bench. I don’t think any footballer would be.
“I want to come here and just show what I can offer, get in a rhythm, get match fit and get back on track.
“I feel my best days are ahead of me and that here is the best place to kick on again and show what I’m all about.”