Aberdeen fans were clamouring for more Ryan Hedges last season. Since August they have got their wish.
Hedges has become a must-pick for Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes and has arguably been their most important and consistent player this season.
During his first campaign in the north-east, Hedges was in and out of the side and admitted himself how frustrating he had found it.
The Wales international has had a change of role this year, playing less out wide and in a more central position as McInnes shifted to a front three.
He has been a reliable creative outlet and struck up a promising partnership with Scott Wright, prior to the latter’s injury.
“The amount of game-time I have had this season is very beneficial,” said Hedges, who joined the Dons after leaving Barnsley in 2019. ” I came here to play games and this season that is what I am doing.
“There has been a change of system that probably suits myself and a couple of other players a bit more.
“There is that freedom in the final part of the pitch. The interlinking play between the front players is very fluid.”
Hedges has contributed four goals and three assists in his 20 appearances for the Dons, a tally his manager has encouraged him to increase by pulling the trigger more often.
He added: “After the Killie game I touched on that. He said to me at half-time about pulling the trigger. I do so five minutes later and we score.
“I think it’s something I do need to work on, in terms of adding more goals to my game and backing my own ability.”
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) November 11, 2020
Aberdeen face Rangers at Pittodrie tomorrow having failed to lay a glove on the Ibrox side this season.
The manner of both defeats to the Gers – 1-0 on the opening day and a 4-0 defeat in Govan – left a sense that the Dons had not done themselves justice against the league leaders.
Hedges said: “The first game of the season you don’t know where you are in terms of fitness. It was a bad day at the office for all involved. The away game – the preparation with the three lads going away with Scotland and missing two weeks wasn’t great.
“I think we’re in a better place now going into this game than we were in the previous two.”
Aberdeen have failed to find the net in two of their last three games, with goalless draws against Motherwell and Dundee United, but have quietly put together a consistent run of form.
They have lost just once in 14 games, with that defeat coming at Ibrox on November 22.
“Results over the last few weeks have not been the best, but being unbeaten going into this game – we’re not on a bad run, but we’re capable of more,” Hedges added. “Hopefully this can be a springboard for our season.
“If you look at the last four games – the Motherwell and Dundee United games especially – it’s probably four points dropped there and if we get those, we’re level with Celtic. They’re the small differences that add up to big things.
“Hopefully it’ll start clicking at the top end of the pitch; we’re creating opportunities, it’s just that final pass and cutting edge that I’m sure will come.”