Ryan Christie’s rise into one of Scotland’s most productive players has come as little surprise to Tony Docherty.
The Aberdeen assistant manager worked with Christie during his two loan spells with Aberdeen, in which he helped the Dons to the 2017 Scottish Cup final and to pip Rangers to second place a year later.
Inverness youth product Christie has been in blistering form so far this campaign, netting 17 goals and laying on 11 more for his Hoops team-mates. His form has transformed him from someone who had been a fringe player at times under Brendan Rodgers, into one of the most lethal players in the country and now a Scotland regular.
His most famous contribution in the red of Aberdeen arguably came in the 2017 Scottish Cup semi-final, in which he scored in the 3-2 win over Hibernian to earn the Dons a place in another Hampden showpiece.
The Dons need little reminder of his quality, with Christie having scored the winner in the Betfred Cup final last year against his former club. He was, however, suspended for the league champions’ 4-0 win at Pittodrie in October.
Docherty is effusive in his praise for the 24-year-old, who hit the back of the net again in Celtic’s midweek win over Hearts. They now have to do all they can today to stop him adding to his list of match-winning performances.
He said: “Having worked with him on a day-to-day basis for 18 months I would say he is the hardest working player in Scotland. I think that’s something he doesn’t get the credit for as his goal against Hearts was simply outstanding.
“He doesn’t even take a backlift as it was just one step and it was fired in to the corner but I’ve see that so often for myself. I’ve seen on the training field how good a player Ryan Christie is technically but what others don’t see is his work ethic.
“Everything he did when he was here he did to 100 percent putting maximum effort in during ever training sesssion. Whether it was on the pitch or in the gym and he is now getting the rewards for that so I’m not surprised how well he’s done.
“He’s a great kid but we are now going into a game where we need to find a way to try and stop him being as good as he showed again in the win at Tynecastle.”
Aberdeen remain without long-term injury doubts Craig Bryson, Ethan Ross and Scott Wright, while Greg Leigh has been sent for a scan this week after picking up a shin injury. The defender-cum-midfielder was substituted just before half-time in the 1-0 win over Hamilton Accies seven days ago, with Andy Considine, who replaced him at Pittodrie, likely to come into the side in the event Leigh is sidelined.