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McInnes sets sights on closing the gap on Rangers

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes wants his players to use the pain felt at losing to Rangers as motivation in their attempt to catch the Light Blues in the Premiership.

The Dons bounced back from their 4-2 defeat to the Gers at Pittodrie with a 4-1 win against Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup on Sunday. McInnes’s side will face the winners of the replay between Rangers and Kilmarnock at Pittodrie next month.

While excited at the chance to reach another semi-final the Aberdeen manager’s focus is firmly on the league campaign for now as his side aim to overhaul the five-point gap between Steven Gerrard’s second-placed side and the Dons who are in second.

The Dons return to league duty on Saturday when St Mirren visit Pittodrie and McInnes said: “We’ll deal with the quarter-final when it comes around and whoever we play we’ll deal with it. Cup ties, home or away, can be tricky and we’re just happy to be in the quarter-final.

“But the league is the priority just now. There’s still 13 games to go and we have to knuckle down. The defeat last week was a sore one for us and we’re now five points behind Rangers.

“There are still a lot of football to be played and we’ll remember how we felt after the game and use it as extra motivation. We’ll see where we end up at the end of the season.”

The Aberdeen manager was encouraged by the display of his side in Sunday’s cup victory against Queens and was pleased to see his players contributing at both ends of the pitch.

He said: “There was a lot of effort put into the Rangers game and it meant there was a wee bit of tiredness on Sunday but what we didn’t lack was a desire.

“I’m delighted we’ve scored from open play and set-pieces but defensively we were very good too and it was great to see Michael Devlin back on the pitch again.

“We wanted him to be involved and it will be good for him psychologically to be back on the pitch for the first time since November.

“People look at a game against Queen of the South and expect it to be easy but it is never easy against a team that is well organised and gives their front two every encouragement.

“For Niall to come on and score and provide two assists was fantastic but it also showed me our shape was better and we looked more comfortable.

“It’s good that we have players of Niall’s quality as options. We did think of starting Niall and stretching them out a bit.”

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