David Martindale believes a double-header against Aberdeen is his toughest test yet as Livingston manager.
Martindale has enjoyed 10 wins and two draws since replacing Gary Holt at the helm.
The two draws came in a double-header against two very different Celtic teams, either side of the Hoops getting 13 players out of self-isolation, although Martindale himself made seven changes for the second game with one eye on the Betfred Cup semi-finals.
But Aberdeen remain the only team Livi have not beaten since they regained their top-flight status in 2018, and they are without a victory against the Dons since 2004.
Livi host Derek McInnes’ side on Saturday before travelling to Pittodrie on Tuesday.
“A massive game,” Martindale told LFC Live. “I think this is probably going to be the toughest test to date. Aberdeen home and away is going to be really, really tough.
“And I know we have had Celtic in this run of games but, let’s be honest, we played at Parkhead against a disadvantaged Celtic team and here, the Celtic players that came back in the team were probably a wee bit disadvantaged as they’d not trained properly for 10 days.
“So I do think this is going to be our biggest test.
“But I said to the boys before Wednesday’s game that three points doesn’t secure top six, but it goes a long way to getting top six because it opens up that wee gap.
“So whether you finish sixth, fifth, fourth, third or whatever, I think it opens up a big enough gap to make sure we stay in the top six.”
Livi recorded a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock on Wednesday to cut the gap on fourth-placed Hibernian to five points, with a game in hand, and extend their lead over sixth-placed Dundee United to seven points.
They are nine points clear in the race for a top-six place and Martindale feels their two late goals could be crucial.
“Everything is within our hands now,” he said. “We are going to have tough games, we are going to lose games of football.
“Obviously I am delighted the run we are on and I’m going to keep pushing to try and stay on this run but common sense tells you you are going to lose games of football.
“But I think that result kicks us on a wee bit and more or less, more or less, secures top six.
“But I will use the same line on Saturday just to keep them on their toes…”