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Greg Leigh says players owe under-fire Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes a performance

Aberdeen defender Greg Leigh.
Aberdeen defender Greg Leigh.

Greg Leigh acknowledges that with increased expectations at Aberdeen, you are there to be shot at.

Recent poor form – the Dons have won just twice in nine games and not scored in their last three – has seen critics round on players and manager Derek McInnes.

A BBC Sport article this week suggested McInnes was at the “most dangerous point” of his tenure, suggesting the Dons board could remove their long-serving manager should they not get a result against Hibernian today.

Leigh will not have any talk of division. There is a feeling the players owe their manager a performance after their recent stuttering run, which despite the frustration and anger that has come along with it, has not seen knocked out of the European chase.

“I haven’t seen the article, but people can talk and say what they want to say,” said Leigh. “But the only thing that matters is us here, so I won’t even dignify it with a response.

“Our area is on the pitch, we focus on that and that’s it. When you are at a team like Aberdeen, you are expected to be third in the league because we’re the third-biggest team in Scotland.

Aberdeen defender Greg Leigh leaves the pitch after the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Livingston.

“We are expected to get results and when you don’t get results there are eyes on you. If you don’t live up to it, you have your critics.

“Winning games and good performances silences any critics anywhere who have things to say. If that includes them, it includes them.

“Do we owe the manager a performance? I’d say so. It’s difficult for everyone when we’re not scoring goals and I think we are due to start scoring.

“But it’s a team thing, I don’t believe in this ‘us and them’ thing – everyone here is in it together, it’s a collective. We are all in it together, we have each other’s backs.”

Without supporters in stadiums this season, criticism from the terraces has been confined to social media channels.

It is never the most reliable of barometers at the best of times, however, when you have fans cooped up in their houses and unable to vent their frustrations as they would on the terraces, it becomes the easiest outlet.

Aberdeen defender Leigh added: “There is a different air to it this season, because you realise how the fans can help swing things for you.

“Personally I don’t really notice it all that much when you’re playing, but there are moments, like coming back from a goal down, where they can make the difference.”

The recent run has been discussed among the players and staff, in a bid to put right what has become a slump.

Hibernian are their nearest rivals for third spot and are still just two points above them, with Aberdeen holding a game in hand.

“When you do have a lot of bad results in a short period of time, then there is an element of frustration for everybody, looking at the games knowing perhaps we haven’t done as well as we wanted to do,” Leigh added.

“It has been annoying, but we know looking at the league table, which is the most important thing, that one win then we would be in third is not a bad place to be.”

Aberdeen midfieder Ryan Hedges is helped off against Livingston.

Aberdeen will have to set about righting their season without Ryan Hedges, with the influential midfielder out for the rest of the campaign after rupturing his pectoral muscle against Livingston.

“Losing Ryan is a big hit for the team, because he’s probably been our most influential player this season,” added Leigh. “So to get injured the way he did was really disappointing for him and for the team.

“It’s difficult, we can’t lie, but we need people to step up and do the job he’s been doing for the team.”