Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin has challenged his players to show him they have a long-term future at the club.
The Dons are struggling in the bottom half of the Premiership, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox leaving the Dons 10th in the table, four points off a top six place, with three games remaining before the split.
It has been an underwhelming campaign thus far, with the team’s struggles on the pitch resulting in Stephen Glass being dismissed last month.
Goodwin has been charged with the task of hauling the Dons up the table before leading a revamp of the playing squad this summer – and he has urged the squad to show they want to be part of his plans.
He said: “I think they understand as I told them in the first meeting it was a chance for me to get to know them personally and vice versa.
“I know them in terms of what they are capable on the pitch, but this is the opportunity to see if we can work together long-term.
“But it’s not different to any other football club as there are always players trying to win a new contract here or elsewhere.
“That’s just part of the industry that we are in.
“But I’m not going to sit here and give decisions on who is part of my plans and who is not.
“I don’t think that would be fair. I think I’d 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.”
Decisions to be made on out of contract players
The first decisions to be made will be on which players out of contract will be offered new deals.
The Dons want to retain defender Andy Considine, who has been injured since August, but decisions need to be made on Jonny Hayes, Dylan McGeouch, Funso Ojo, Michael Ruth and Mikey Devlin.
Goodwin said: “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.”
Goodwin is still searching for his first win since arriving at Pittodrie after two draws and two defeats in his opening four matches.
Europe still the aim for Aberdeen
The Dons boss insists qualifying for a place in Europe this summer remains the aim, but the first priority is to ensure Aberdeen are in the hunt for Europe after the split by securing a top six place.
Goodwin said: “We are one of the biggest clubs in the country and that carries its own level of weight and its own level of expectation.
“We’re not a million miles away from where we want to be. We’ve had a couple of draws recently, but we need to start getting three points on the board.
“This club needs to be competing in European football every year. There’s no getting away from that.
“It needs to be going far in cup competitions and that’s the minimum requirement to be honest with you.
“It’s still quite early. I’ve only been in two weeks and I need to be fair to every member of the squad before a decision is made on their future.
“Right now the short-term goals are to try to 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.”
Squad options improving
Goodwin has not had his troubles to seek since arriving with a combination of injuries and Covid issues restricting his options.
But the Dons boss is confident he will have more depth in his squad in the near future.
He said: “There are some big players missing and that is really important to remember as well.
“Celtic are making excuses when they start firing in injuries and Covid situations, but we have had some real issues to deal with just in the short time I have been in.
“Hopefully we can get all those key players back relatively quickly.
“That will give me real good competition for places, which is all you can ask for as a manager.”