Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes believes summer signing Curtis Main will be another major goal threat this season.
Striker Sam Cosgrove is top scorer in all european competitions with six goals in the opening four games. No player in the europa League or Champions League has netted as many as goal machine Cosgrove.
However, McInnes insists Main can provide strong competition for Cosgrove which can only spell danger for rival defences.
A summer capture having left Motherwell at the end of last season, Main has been hitting the heights in training, says McInnes.
Main was left out of the squad for the 5-0 europa League destruction of Chikhura Sachkhere as a precaution having picked up a thigh strain.
He is expected to be fit to face Hearts in today’s Premiership opener at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “Curtis Main will be a very important player for me and Sam Cosgrove sees that as well.
“Curtis has been fantastic in training and is bursting to go.
“He has been doing all he can to get involved.
“I have no doubt in my mind that although Sam is scoring goals he will see how well Curtis has been doing in training.
“Sam has started the season well and knows he has real competition from Curtis.
“I feel as though I have the benefit of having a couple of really strong strikers up there.
“Having that competition is good for everyone.”
Main has only featured as a substitute competitively for the Dons so far, coming on midway through the second half of the 2-1 defeat of RoPS Rovaniemi in Finland in the Europa League first qualifying round.
Having picked up a minor thigh strain in training 24 hours before Thursday’s clash with Chikhura Sachkhere Main was not risked – with the Hearts game in mind.
McInnes said: “Although Curtis picked up a wee strain he will hopefullly be okay.”
McInnes aims to freshen up his squad for the Premiership opener after their Euro rigours.
Aberdeen begin their domestic campaign with the Pittodrie clash today.
He said: “Hearts will be rubbing their hands at the amount of energy we put out in the euro tie and that is our biggest concern.
“We have dealt with the European games now and it is important we regroup for Hearts.
“I took players off against Chikhura and kept players back with Sunday in mind.
“We will try to get as fresh a team as possible out there to deal with what will be a tough game but an exciting one.”
Aberdeen will be without centre-backs Mikey Devlin and Ash Taylor tomorrow.
Taylor suffered a hamstring injury in the 1-1 first-leg draw with Chikhura in Georgia last week. Scan results confirmed Taylor will be sidelined for up to a month and will miss the Europa League third qualifying round ties against HNK Rijeka.
McInnes said: “Sometimes when you play in Europe the excitement and anticipation of the first league game proper can be diluted.
“However, everyone who was at Pittodrie on Thursday will be back and Hearts will bring a big support.
“So the game will generate a fantastic atmosphere and hopefully we deliver a performance that gets us three points.”
McInnes anticipates a testing league opener against a Hearts side strengthened during the summer transfer window by boss Craig Levein.
The Jambos have secured Scotland international striker Steven Naismith on a permanent four-year deal following his exit from Norwich City.
Naismith, 32, spent the last 18 months on loan at Tynecastle, scoring 18 times in 48 appearances.
Despite suffering injury and undergoing two knee operations last season, Naismith was Hearts’ top scorer with 14 goals in 27 games
Also signed were former QPR and Sheffield United striker Conor Washington and ex-Livingston defender Craig Halkett.
Scotland Under-21 international Jamie Walker has returned to Tynecastle following a season with Wigan Athletic.
McInnes said: “Hearts will be tough and the four signings they have made have been very good.
“Washington has a pedigree, Walker did well at Hearts previously and Halkett is a player I really like who will do fantastically well for them.
“Naismith is a huge boost for them because for me he was arguably the best player in Scottish football last season until he suffered his injury.
“It is important for us we start our domestic campaign with a win and hopefully we can do that.”