New Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin will give every player the chance to impress before making a decision on their future.
Goodwin insists there will be no quick calls made on whether players will remain at Pittodrie for next season.
The Dons gaffer says he will “be fair” to every member of the squad and will hold talks with players before making any decision on their future.
Goodwin will lead ninth placed Aberdeen against Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday.
He insists his first priority is rising back up the table – before looking at contracts.
He said: “I’ve only been in ten days and I need to be fair to every member of the squad before a decision is made on their future.
“It’s still quite early.
“Right now the short-term goals are to try and get as many points on the board as possible to try and get us back into the top six initially.
“Once we’re there then focus on trying to rein in the teams in fourth and fifth.
“But I’m not going to sit here and give decisions on who’s part of my plans and who’s not.
“I don’t think that would be fair.
“I need to speak to the individuals involved first.
“I’ve not made that decision yet and we’ll wait and see what happens in the weeks and months ahead.
“There are a number of players out of contract so those discussions will need to be had as well.
“But for the time being I’m really pleased with what the players have given me.
“They’ve all shown a great attitude in training and long may that continue.”
Wins needed now in race for top six
A number of players including Jonny Hayes, Dylan McGeouch, Andy Considine and Mikey Devlin are set to go out of contract at the end of the season.
Midfielder Ross McCrorie signed a two year contract extension until summer 2026 just days after Goodwin arrived at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen are still searching for a first Premiership win in 2022 after nine games.
The trip to Hearts is the first in a quick-fire away double header with the Reds facing Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.
Goodwin accepts Aberdeen must start securing victories now with only five fixtures remaining before the Premiership split.
He said: “We need to start getting wins, definitely.
“Prior to taking the position as manager I looked at the upcoming fixtures.
“I don’t think they could have got any tougher to be perfectly honest with you.
“We were away to Mothewell, one of the most physical teams in the league.
“A home game with Dundee United then away trips to Hearts and Rangers back to back.
“Then Hibs. They are tough, tough games.
“But I wouldn’t be sitting here thinking if we are playing Ross County, Dundee or Livingston it would be straight forward either.
“They are all extremely difficult games.
“Aberdeen have already had some relative success against Hearts this season so I don’t see why we can’t replicate that on Wednesday night.
“Then we’ll see what comes after that.
“We focus on the Hearts then the Rangers game after that.”
Adam Montgomery out injured
Aberdeen were down to the bare bones for the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Pittodrie at the weekend due to injuries and Covid issues.
Goodwin hopes for those problems to be alleviated but will leave the call until the morning of the trip to Tynecastle.
However he will definitely be without on loan Celtic left-back Adam Montgomery who came off injured in the New Firm derby.
The teenage full-back has suffered a hamstring injury.
He said: “We’ve had a couple of guys train with the group on Tuesday morning so we’re just waiting until Wednesday to make a decision.
“Hopefully there’s no reaction overnight and they wake up feeling great and they’ll be part of the squad.
“The only absentee from the weekend will be Adam Montgomery who picked up a hamstring injury.
“We’ll assess that over the next week.
“We’re hoping it’s not going to be too bad but initially we’re looking at ten days to two weeks.
“Other than that it’ll be pretty much the same squad and hopefully we have a couple added to it.”
Congested Premiership table
Hearts are in control of third spot and sit 14 points ahead of the Dons with just 10 games of the Premiership campaign remaining.
That is despite Aberdeen holding the upper hand over the Tynecastle side this season.
The Dons drew 1-1 in Edinburgh in August and beat Hearts 2-1 at Pittodrie in October.
Goodwin said: “We want to be competing for those top positions at the top end of the table.
“Hearts have consistently been the third best team in the league this season. I don’t think anybody can deny that.
“Robbie Neilson (Hearts manager) deserves a lot of credit.
“I think they’ve recruited very well throughout the last couple of seasons.
“When they were in the Championship, they weren’t recruiting for the Championship, they were always thinking long term.
“They’re starting to get the rewards from that because they’ve got a group of players who have been together now for quite a while.
“So, I think Robbie and his recruitment staff deserve a lot of credit for that.”
🔴 Next up, Hearts away.
🇧🇪 Funso Ojo scored in our last visit to Tynecastle. pic.twitter.com/BgS7IeUNIq
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) February 28, 2022
The value of Hearts keeper Gordon
Goodwin has overseen two draws, against Dundee United and Motherwell, since replacing Stephen Glass as manager.
Standing in the way of that first league win for Goodwin is Hearts’ and Scotland international keeper Craig Gordon.
Goodwin said: “Hearts have got some really good pace in the team, good experience as well.
“They’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
“Craig Gordon has made numerous saves throughout the course of the season which, I would imagine, has equated to about 10 or 12 points.
“As important as strikers are, your goalkeeper is just as vital.
“That’s why I think Hearts have had the successes they’ve had over the course of the season.
“They’ve recruited really well in key areas of the team.”