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Duncan Shearer: Aberdeen are reeling in the European hopefuls after a December flourish

Teddy Jenks fired Aberdeen to victory at St Johnstone
Teddy Jenks fired Aberdeen to victory at St Johnstone

What a difference a couple of weeks has made for Aberdeen.

From nervously looking over their shoulders and fearful of being dragged into the relegation mire at the bottom of the Premiership, the Dons are hot on the heels of the teams above them in the top half.

Saturday’s 1-0 win at St Johnstone was a huge result for Stephen Glass and his players. It was the first game this season where Aberdeen have really had to dig deep and grind out a win, albeit a controversial one.

Teddy Jenks did handle the ball before firing home the only goal of the game, but he got away with it as Dons celebrated their third victory in a row.

In his defence, I don’t believe for a second it was deliberate on his part. It was a St Johnstone player who headed Funso Ojo’s free kick down on to his arm, which was not in an unnatural position.

Aberdeen’s Teddy Jenks makes it 1-0 against St Johnstone.

What really pleased me though was Jenks being a total professional about it all. He didn’t hang around, he instinctively fired the ball past Zander Clark and then let the officials decide if any offence had been caused.

It’s what you should do as a player. Play the game until the whistle blows and Jenks did just that.

It was a huge result for Aberdeen, who are now a point behind the fourth and fifth-placed teams, Dundee United and Motherwell.

More importantly they have a chance to rest and recover before playing their next game against Hibernian at Easter Road next Wednesday.

Hibs have a huge week with a game against Dundee at Easter Road tonight before they play Celtic in the League Cup final at Hampden on Sunday.

It will be a challenging one for the managerless Hibees and Aberdeen must try to take advantage when they head to the capital for their final game before Christmas next week.

County on the rise but they still need a striker

What a boost psychologically it must be for Ross County to be able to look at the Premiership league table and no longer see their name at the bottom of the division.

I was at Victoria Park on Saturday to see them beat Dundee 3-2 in what was a fantastic game.

I was a little peeved to hear Dark Blues boss James McPake complain the three goals his side lost to the Staggies were avoidable. Every manager can say that. The fact is Dundee didn’t avoid conceding them.

Did Dundee deserve to lose? Probably not, no, but you don’t always get what you deserve in this game and it’s how you react to those disappointments which really matters.

For County, I have to commend the shift Joseph Hungbo and Regan Charles-Cook are doing on the wings for Malky Mackay’s side at the moment.

Joseph Hungbo has become a key player for County in recent weeks

They were outstanding on Saturday and were two of the big reasons why the Staggies won the game.

I watched the game with John Robertson, who was on radio duty in Dingwall, and we both joked we would have had a couple of goals apiece in our pomp, such was the outstanding service Hungbo and Charles-Cook provided from out wide.

County have done so well to reel in the teams above them and set-up a real fight to avoid the drop in the second half of the season, but I believe if they can find a finisher when the window opens next month they can pull themselves clear to safety.

I like Jordan White, but he is not a natural goalscorer. For a big man his hold-up play could be better, but he is in the team to unsettle opposing defenders and he is very good at doing that. But they need a poacher in there to finish off the chances.

Finding them on County’s budget is the hard part. There are not too many modern-day Ally McCoist or Robbo types around.

It’s official – Caley Thistle are my title favourites

You will not hear anyone at Caledonian Stadium say this, but I will – Caley Thistle are favourites for the Championship title.

I tipped Kilmarnock before a ball had been kicked, but Inverness raced out the traps to pile the pressure on the teams chasing them.

When Killie reeled them in to move top, I feared the worst, but the response from Billy Dodds’ side in reclaiming top spot has convinced me this is their best chance of winning the league since they dropped out of the Premiership.

I’d like to see them add another midfielder and a striker – even if it is on loan – to push them over the line, but when I look at the team Doddsy has put together it’s very strong.

Kirk Broadfoot has been outstanding for Caley Thistle

The goalkeeper and back four are excellent with the Danny Devine and Kirk Broadfoot partnership particularly impressive, and Saturday’s 6-1 demolition of Morton at Cappielow was a statement result for me.

It shows me and the rest of the league they are the real deal.

When I look at the quality of the other sides in the division in comparison to the Inverness team, I don’t see a huge threat to worry Caley Jags at this point.

They are that little bit better in every department for me and this could be their year.

One word of caution though – for Inverness to go up they have to win the Championship.

The play-offs are weighted so heavily against the Championship sides that the team which reaches the play-off final against the second bottom team in the Premiership is always the underdog, and a tired one at that.

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