Aberdeen midfielder Jonny Hayes is counting on the twin threat of Ash Taylor, the man he rates the most dangerous player in the Premiership, and prolific scorer Adam Rooney to fire the Dons into title contention when they face Celtic.
The Scottish champions visit Pittodrie on Wednesday for a crucial Scottish Premiership top-of-the-table encounter.
Victory for the Dons will halve the Hoops’ advantage at the top to three points and Hayes believes both Rooney and Taylor will be key to Aberdeen recording their second victory against Ronny Deila’s side this season.
Hayes says Taylor is the most feared central defender in Scottish football when it comes to threatening opponents at set-pieces.
Taylor dominated Dundee in the 1-0 win at Pittodrie a week ago and could have a hat-trick but for the efforts of former Don Scott Bain in the Dark Blues goal.
Hayes is not surprised to see his team-mate, who has scored three times this season, dominate opponents.
He said: “Our defence was solid against Dundee with Ash and Andy Considine dominating and that gave us the confidence to go on and win the game.
“Ash could have got a few goals at the other end, too. He wants to get on the ball up front in training and when he attacks the ball he is probably the most dangerous player in the league and we’re pleased to have him in our side.
“I know from talking to players at other clubs they regard him as a threat.”
While Taylor’s aerial presence is well known, so, too, is the finishing prowess of Rooney. The attacker took his tally for the campaign to 16 with the only goal of the game against Dundee.
Hayes, who also played with his fellow Dubliner at Caley Thistle, is not surprised to see his team-mate in hot pursuit of Hoops attacker Leigh Griffiths in the race to be the leading scorer in the Premiership.
He said: “There is not a player like him, no one with that natural instinct.
“Balls come into the box and players stand and watch but not Adam, he is on the move all the time. He is such a threat and has shown that since he came here.”
Rooney’s goal made it 10 games unbeaten for the Dons and, with Pittodrie heading for a sellout, Hayes is eager to make it 11 on Wednesday.
He said: “Confidence is something which has always been in our dressing-room. We are where we are because we don’t get ahead of ourselves, we take it one game at a time.
“Games against Celtic are always big ones but it’s the same three points on offer. Our home form has been good and we’re ready for the game.”