Former Aberdeen striker Billy Dodds believes recruiting experience is Derek McInnes’ main priority as his summer rebuild of the Dons squad gathers pace.
McInnes has moved quickly to the loss of several key players this summer with a triple-swoop this week to bring Curtis Main, Ashton Taylor and Ryan Hedges to Pittodrie.
Their arrival is the first step in what will be a busy summer following the departures of skipper Graeme Shinnie and winger Gary Mackay-Steven while Greg Stewart, Dominic Ball, Max Lowe and James Wilson’s loan deals all expired.
Although Dodds has been impressed by the impact made by a number of the Dons youngsters, including Lewis Ferguson, Connor McLennan and Dean Campbell, the former Scotland attacker believes augmenting the squad with seasoned campaigners is vital to the Reds’ prospects next season.
Dodds said: “They need quality players, but they need to find some sort of experience if you ask me. You saw what happened when they lost Shinnie against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
“That’s nothing against the young boys who played in there. They are all really good players, but they need a helping hand and experience to guide them through.
“Derek will be looking for a couple of experienced midfielders, and I still think they need another striker. He has got plenty in defence, although it depends on whether they lose McKenna or not.
“You can’t beat quality, but sometimes you have quality youngsters who need time, and he can’t really afford that.”
Bruce Anderson and Scott Wright have returned from loan spells with Dunfermline and Dundee respectively and will rejoin the squad for pre-season training but Dodds believes recruitment of senior players will be key to keeping the Dons competitive at the top of Scottish football.
He said: “The bar has been set with Derek by finishing second regularly until this year. They are reaching semi-finals and finals as well. Inxperienced, quality youngsters sometimes don’t get you that.
“He needs quality right throughout. Some youngsters with quality, he unearthed James Maddison for example.
“He will need experience with that if they are going to challenge though, it’s as simple as that.”
McInnes has been at Pittodrie for over six years, but has already described the upcoming transfer window as his biggest rebuild yet.
Despite overseeing big changes over the last two summers, Dodds, who played with McInnes at Dundee United, feels there is a greater onus on the Reds boss to get it right this time around.
Dodds added: “It’s a big close season for Derek. He knows it because he’s on record saying it. It tells you what his mind is on when he says it’s his biggest rebuild he’s had since he came to Aberdeen.
“There was a lot of quality in place, but now he’s going to have to search for that. He came out and said he never got his recruitment right. This year he will have to nail it.”