Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes the burgeoning success of the Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie partnership in midfield has given his attacking players a free rein at Pittodrie.
Ferguson and McCrorie’s displays together in the Dons engine room has been a feature of the club’s solid start to the season and with both playing the role of enforcer as well as contributing to the goalscoring efforts, Aberdeen have moved to within two points of third-placed Hibernian.
McInnes is delighted to see the duo establish an instant rapport.
He said: “I think they enjoy playing together.
“I thought the two in the middle of the park were very good at Ross County. We asked them to play a wee bit more disciplined because of the ones ahead of them.
“You’re allowing Ryan Hedges, Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn, Scott Wright and Marley Watkins all to have that licence to play off the shape and get involved.
“There has to be balance to the team. Ferguson and McCrorie give us that solidity in the middle and that robustness. They can still pick and choose their moments.
“Ross was involved in the sending off and Fergie gets another couple of goals. He’s very confident, and penalties are a chance, so good on him for continuing to take them.”
The form of the midfield two meant Dylan McGeouch missed out after featuring in the Europa League loss to Sporting Clube de Portugal, but McInnes believes the presence of the former Celtic and Hibernian midfielder is ensuring McCrorie and Ferguson must maintain their consistency.
He said: “It’s clear that McCrorie and Ferguson are both in similar stages of their career and going the right way, but we’ve got good options there and they’re going to have to keep performing to keep that jersey in there.
“I’ve been really pleased with Dylan McGeouch at the minute and I think there will be a lot of times when Dylan wins the fight to play in there in certain games. Against Ross County, we wanted to move their back four about, we wanted to try and get as much speed in the team as we could.
“I thought Sunday was the right game for McGinn to be involved in. With that balance comes maybe a wee bit more robustness. When they went down to 10 men, it was perfect for Dylan to come on and run the game and be a possession-based team.”
The win at Ross County on Sunday has put Aberdeen in a strong position ahead of tomorrow’s league match against St Mirren at Pittodrie and the Aberdeen manager is looking for another good performance heading into the international break.
McInnes said: “I think we just need to get to the St Mirren game and put everything into that and try get the three points and get through the international break without any real issues.
“Hopefully we can get by the end of the next international break, Sam Cosgrove, Mikey Devlin and Matty Kennedy back into the mix and really bolster the squad.
“First things first, if we can get the job done on Friday, then I think, with the players coming back, the way the team is, I think we can look forward to what’s ahead of us.”