Aberdeen midfielder Willo Flood’s desire to avoid watching a title celebration will drive him on to keep Celtic’s celebrations on hold at Parkhead this weekend.
The Dons thrashed Motherwell 4-1 to secure second place in the Premiership on Saturday, but the championship is beyond them after the Hoops won 3-1 at Hearts.
Celtic’s win means they are nine points clear with three games remaining and boast a superior goal difference, but Flood wants to beat Ronny Deila’s side on Sunday to delay the celebration for another week.
He said: “It would be a kick in the teeth if they were to be celebrating in front of us as we have run them so close.
“Aberdeen are on the way up. We’re here, we’re competing and we’ll go again next season.
“A win for us would show we are ready for them. They’ve had the consistency over the longer period than us but they’ve been around the block longer and our players are only just getting used to it.
“It is a good game for us next week as they had a great result against Hearts and played really well.
“We’ve never worried about Celtic this season as we’ve always focused on ourselves and we want to finish with momentum for next season.”
The Dons could be heading for Glasgow without the services of attackers Simon Church and Adam Rooney after both limped off in Saturday’s win.
Midfielder Jonny Hayes’ contribution will be even more important, but that will not be an issue for a player Flood regards as the best in the country.
He said: “For me Jonny Hayes is hands down the best player in the league. People might argue Leigh Griffiths, but for me Jonny is the most improved player in the last three years and the best player in the league by a country mile.
“He brings goals and assists and is a player people would pay to watch as he gets them off their seats. There are not too many like him around.”
While the Dons reflect on what might have been Flood does not believe Aberdeen’s best chance of winning a league championship has gone with the return of Rangers.
He said: “The players are happy enough but frustrated at letting a few results go by in the last few weeks.
“But this team will grow with the manager in charge and he will get players in who will make the team better. As long as he is in charge this club will always move forward.
“Rangers looked a good outfit in the Scottish Cup semi-final. Mark Warburton came up here with a big reputation and he has done well, but it hard to say how they will get on in the Premiership.
“What they will find is teams will have a go at them. In the Championship some teams will have been happy to have taken a draw but it won’t be like that in the Premiership.”