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Joe Harper column: Wanted man Ryan Hedges underlined his importance to Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Ryan Hedges celebrates the opening goal in the 2-0 defeat of Livingston.
Aberdeen's Ryan Hedges celebrates the opening goal in the 2-0 defeat of Livingston.

Wanted man Ryan Hedges underlined how important he is to Aberdeen with an impressive performance against Livingston.

Aberdeen could face fresh bids for the Welsh international in the January transfer window – particularly if he consistently produces that level of performance.

Hedges netted a superb opener and was only denied more goals by some vital saves by Livi keeper Max Stryjek.

Aberdeen have already rejected a bid of under £500,000 from Blackburn Rovers during the summer window.

English clubs will no doubt be monitoring Hedges closely so more interest, and potentially offers, for Hedges can be expected in January.

Aberdeen’s Ryan Hedges celebrates the opening goal in the 2-0 defeat of Livingston.

The 26-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and will be free to talk to any interested clubs when the transfer window opens on January 1.

Hedges is a key player and Aberdeen should do everything they can, within reason, to convince him to sign a new contract.

Ultimately they can only do so much within the realms of the club’s budget and it will also then be out of the Dons’ hands when the attacker’s deal runs out.

Ideally Aberdeen can come up with a package and argument that convinces Hedges to commit his long term future to the club by signing a new contract.

Celtic’s Anthony Ralston (left) battles with Aberdeen’s Ryan Hedges at Parkhead.

However if that looks unlikely they should retain him for the rest of the season because Hedges is potentially worth so much beyond January in what he brings to the team.

Hedges will have aspirations of breaking back into the Welsh national squad for the World Cup play-offs in March, with a potential final against Scotland.

To get back into the Wales squad will take a consistently high level of performances from Hedges until March – and Aberdeen can only benefit from his fight to get there.

Hedges played a key role in a strong Aberdeen performance in the 2-0 defeat of Livingston where the Reds secured a vital three points to end a three game losing run.

Livingston at home was a game Aberdeen simply had to win, regardless of how they did it. However they secured the victory by playing well.

If Livingston had won at Pittodrie they would have leap-frogged Aberdeen in the Premiership and consigned the Reds to dropping further down the table.

It was a high pressure game and Aberdeen handled it well by showing both their quality and fighting spirt.

Aberdeen must reproduce those levels in Saturday’s home clash with St Mirren.

The games will come thick and fast in December in a month that will be absolutely pivotal to Aberdeen’s season.

December offers the opportunity to build up a real head of steam to go into the new year with a bang.

The Reds have games against St Mirren, St Johnstone, Hibs, Dundee, Rangers and Ross County before the Premiership goes into the winter shutdown.

There are 18 points to play for.

Aberdeen must target a run of wins in that fixture list that will leave them firmly in the top six when the league goes into a three week cold storage.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes (L) and Funso Ojo in the 2-0 defeat of Livingston.

Aberdeen must look to recreate the form that yielded seven points from a triple header against Hearts (2-1 win), Rangers (2-2) and Hibs (1-0 win) recently.

The defeat of Livingston is just one result – they have to follow that up and prove it is not a one off. Aberdeen’s fate is in their own hands in a big, big December.

Defender avid Bates finding his form

Summer signing David Bates is beginning to find his form and was my man-of-the-match in the defeat of Livingston.

The Scotland international recently said he had struggled to find his top form because he arrived at Pittodrie without any pre-season.

It can take time to get up to that full sharpness and Bates is now beginning to find that form.

Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis and David Bates after the 2-0 defeat of Livingston.

Bates didn’t put a foot wrong defensively for the whole game against Livingston and also pitched in with the second goal.

He played very well alongside Ross McCrorie and there appears to be an understanding developing between the two.

Livingston didn’t muster a significant shot during the game as Bates played a key role in ensuring it was a quiet night for keeper Joe Lewis.

Aberdeen’s David Bates during the 2-1 Premiership loss at Celtic.

Aberdeen’s defence had been leaking goals this season with only two clean sheets in the opening 22 games in all competitions prior to facing Livingston.

It was a major positive to secure a shut-out. Keeping it tight at the back breeds confidence throughout the team.

They need to remain Granite solid at the back against St Mirren on Saturday.

Ambitious move by Fort William

Highland League side Fort William have made an ambitious move by appointing Shadab Iftikhar as their new manager.

The 31-year-old swapped a scouting role with Belgium under Roberto Martinez  to take  the reins at the club bottom of the Highland League.

Fort William manager Shadab Iftikhar. Supplied by Fort William FC

Fort William have taken just one point from the opening 18 games but Iftikhar has a strong pedigree having worked with Martinez at Everton and Wigan Athletic as well as the Belgium national team.

From scouting for Euro 2020 for the team top of the FIFA World rankings to the bottom of the Highland League – it is a bold move by Iftikhar and Fort William and one that I hope pays off for both.

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