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Andy Considine: Aberdeen should be aiming for Champions League spots

Aberdeen defender Andy Considine.
Aberdeen defender Andy Considine.

Andy Considine believes qualifying for next season’s Champions League is a realistic target for Aberdeen.

Scotland will have an extra team in the competition next term with the Scottish champions entering the third qualifying round, while the runners-up will enter a round earlier.

The Dons sit third in the table and three points behind Celtic, who have a game in hand. Early pacesetters Rangers are 11 points clear at the summit but have played two games more than Neil Lennon’s Hoops.

Under Derek McInnes, Aberdeen have finished second four years in a row before successive fourth-place finishes in the past two seasons.

Considine feels a top-two placing is not beyond Aberdeen and would love to hear the Champions League anthem playing at Pittodrie next season.

Ahead of today’s trip to St Mirren, he said: “If we can have a good month we can get ourselves as close to the top of the table as possible.

“If we can win this weekend we would go level on points with Celtic before they play on the Sunday.

“Can we get second place and the Champions League spot? Of course, why not?

Andy Considine, left, has backed Aberdeen to push Celtic.

“When we are playing well and consistently enough as a team, with everyone fit, we are a match for anyone.

“When we had Celtic at home a couple of months ago we showed a good account of ourselves and should have won the game.

“So I feel we can handle ourselves against the top two teams, so I feel second place is definitely up for grabs, absolutely.

“We just need to go back to basics after a bad week and get the results we need.”

After breaking into the Scotland squad in October and winning his first three caps, Considine also has his sights set on a place in Steve Clarke’s squad for next summer’s European Championships.

The 33-year-old, who moved into the top five in Aberdeen’s all-time appearances list last weekend by playing his 535th game for the Reds, would love to be part of the Scotland team that competes in a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup.

He said: “The Euros is a huge motivation.

“Coronavirus has been horrific for everyone throughout the year, but it managed to get me into the Scotland squad and it was a fantastic experience.

“It gave me the fire and drive – not that I didn’t have that anyway – to become better and keep playing well and consistently.

“Hopefully when March does come around and then in the summer I’m in the manager’s thoughts.

Andy Considine and Scotland boss Steve Clarke.

“When I got the call up I just wanted to do as well as possible in training and in the games.

“I didn’t expect to get my first cap when I was called up, I thought I’d be more of a back-up.

“But to play both games, win both games and keep clean sheets was tremendous.

“Then to get called up again in November and be part of the play-off final for the Euros was incredible.

“The second call-up was probably more satisfying than the first one.

“Obviously getting called up any time is brilliant, but to get a call-up to the original squad was great.

“It’s just a shame there were no fans there when we qualified because you could feel what it meant to everyone.

“It has been tough at times, but they have come a long, long way.”

The Dons return to the scene of last weekend’s Betfred Cup defeat when they meet St Mirren on league duty.

Derek McInnes’ depleted side were beaten 2-1 by the Buddies with an uncharacteristic error by goalkeeper Joe Lewis handing the Paisley men a late victory.

Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis at full-time of the Betfred Cup match between St Mirren and Aberdeen.

Defeat by St Mirren capped off a disappointing week for the Dons following a 4-0 loss at Rangers and a 1-1 draw with bottom of the league Hamilton.

Considine said: “Last week was a tough one coming off the back of an international break and going to Ibrox.

“Coronavirus had hit us and we have injuries, so to go there when you don’t have your best players is tough.

“But at the same time we should have enough in the squad to give a good account of ourselves, but we didn’t do that at all.

“Hamilton is always a tough game but we started well and then lost a goal. We ran out of ideas a bit, which was a massive disappointment for us.

“Then at St Mirren we wanted to come out fighting but started poorly and, although we changed things at half-time, we couldn’t find the back of the net.

“They are a well-organised, well-drilled team who are hard to break down and we were not firing on all cylinders.

“It was a real sore one because in the past six or seven years we have been in semi-finals and finals.

“It has obviously been a while since we last lifted a trophy and now we’ll have to wait until next season for the Betfred Cup again.

“So it was a real sore one to take.

“It was an opportunity missed because Celtic went out the following day and that makes it worse.

“If we’d got the result we wanted it would have been Rangers at home in the next round.

“And I feel that with a full-strength squad at home we’d have enough to beat them.

“St Mirren left their mark on us last weekend, so it’s good to get the chance to go back there again so quickly.

“We want to eradicate last weekend as quickly as possible.”

The Dons defender has backed Lewis to put last weekend’s mistake behind him and get back to top form today.

He added: “Joe has saved us on countless occasions since he’s been here so he’ll be absolutely fine.

“He’s a brilliant captain and a brilliant guy, a top class goalkeeper if not the best goalkeeper in the league.

“Last weekend will be gone now, he won’t be thinking about it at all.

“In football everyone makes mistakes and the good thing is games come thick and fast so you can’t keep things going on.

“Joe has the strength of character to get through that one last weekend.”