10 games left to prove Aberdeen are Premiership’s second force – and it all kicks off at Firhill against hungry Partick

Adam Rooney celebrates after making it 1-0 against Partick at Pittodrie in December.

Only 10 Premiership games remain in the Dons’ battle to retain the status of Scotland’s second force – and boss Derek McInnes today warned every one will be a battle.

Aberdeen are locked in a three-way scrap with Rangers and Hibs to finish runners-up for a fourth successive season.

However, McInnes reckons all 12 clubs in the division each have their own high-stakes fight where points are at an absolute premium.

Whether it is runners-up spot, Europe, top six or relegation, every single side is involved in a meaningful battle.

It is vindication of the SPFL’s decision to introduce both the Premiership split and the relegation play-offs.

It also means the Reds must be at their best in every league game. A challenge ramped up by recent form where they have lost successive league games to both Celtic and Hibs.

The room for error is narrowing substantially at a time when every team is ready to dig deep for their own cause.

In the quest to end a three-game winless streak which also takes in the 1-1 Scottish Cup draw with Kilmarnock, the Reds travel to Partick on Saturday.

The Maryhill Jags have lost their last four games. However, McInnes will have his squad warned of the dangers of a Partick side currently occupying the relegation play-off spot and fighting for survival.

He said: “For every team in the Premiership there is something on each game.

“Be it at the top of the league, for European spots, top six or the six teams below that are all probably still looking over their shoulder to avoid relegation.

“It means every game is really meaningful and Partick Thistle are no different.

“When you see how important points are in Partick’s fight for survival it will be a fiercely fought match and a tight one.”

Aberdeen are unbeaten in the last 13 matches against Partick Thistle dating back to a 3-1 loss in Glasgow in February 2014.

During that run the Reds have won 11, including a 6-0 away victory last year and drawn two.

However, it was far from plain sailing in the last trip to Firhill when a late Adam Rooney goal secured a 4-3 win.

McInnes said: “We have had a decent record against Partick home and away.

“However, it has very rarely been straightforward.

“There have been a couple of games where we have been comfortable, but by and large matches against Partick have been really hard fought.”

The Reds face a make-or-break quarter-final replay against Kilmarnock just three days after facing Partick.

Aberdeen blew a 1-0 lead by conceding a penalty that stemmed from miscommunication between Shay Logan and Kari Arnason.

McInnes was frustrated his defenders switched off in the cup tie and has called for 90 minutes of complete concentration at Firhill.

He said: “We spoke about the need for concentration.

“The need for that was shown with the goal we lost.

“We have to make sure we take responsibility for a 90-minute performance.”

At stake at Rugby Park is a semi-final berth against Motherwell at Hampden.

It is the biggest game of the season, but for now McInnes insists the Reds cannot take their eye off the Partick clash.

He said: “We are back to league duty on Saturday and I want to make sure we get a win.

“If we can go into the cup replay on Tuesday on the back of a win so be it. However, I don’t think it will have any real impact on the replay.

“We will just concentrate on picking up three points rather than worry about the cup.”

That same philosophy applies to games elsewhere. Rangers, currently in second spot six points ahead of Aberdeen, host Celtic at noon on Sunday.

It could present the opportunity for the Reds to close the gap on the Ibrox club.

McInnes refuses to be distracted by speculation and will focus only on what he can control – Partick in Glasgow.

He said: “We are not looking at any other fixtures, just concentrating on ourselves.”