Aberdeen keeper Lewis determined to use Dubai trip to build consistency

Aberdeen's Joe Lewis.

Keeper Joe Lewis is confident he has rediscovered his top form and is determined to use a week in Dubai to ensure he takes that level into the rest of the season.

The 30-year-old today jetted out to a warm weather winter training camp in the United Arab Emirates with the Reds.

Aberdeen will touch down in the Middle East in the early hours of tomorrow morning having gone into the Premiership break holding second spot in the table.

Derek McInnes’ side are just eight points behind league leaders Celtic, coincidentally also in Dubai this week for a training camp.

However, as they ready to sweat it out in 25 degree heat, Lewis, who enjoyed a superb debut season in 2016-17, admits he has been frustrated by aspects of his game in the first half of the campaign.

In particular there were two costly mistakes in the 3-0 League Cup quarter-final loss at Motherwell.

However, he is confident he has hit the form again which saw him named in the Premiership Team of the Year last season.

He said: “By my own standards I have had some poor games.

“Last season I had a good campaign and was very consistent, but this season I have had a couple of off games where I feel I have not been to my normal standards.

“Recently I feel I have got back to that consistency and I am playing better.

“Now I just have to keep that level of consistency going for the rest of the campaign.

“I feel more confident and everyone within the team also feels more confident as a defensive unit.

“There were a couple of goals we conceded earlier this season that we felt we were defensively not quite at it.

“We were disappointed at the way we defended a couple of set-plays, but we have been working on that.

“It is a team job to keep clean sheets and as a defensive unit I have a lot of confidence in the players in front of me.”

Aberdeen will train at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence this week before facing Uzbekistan side Lokomotiv Tashkent in a closed-doors friendly on Sunday.

A week away in the sun offers not just the opportunity to recharge, but also to reflect on the season so far.

While Lewis admits to disappointment at isolated performances, he understands it is a fundamental part of a keeper’s psychological make-up to constantly remain on an even keel.

“Obviously I am gutted after having a bad game and if we don’t win, regardless of how I have played, I am still disappointed,” explained the keeper.

“But you have to put that to bed quickly.

“I try not to get too carried away if I have a good game and also not get too disappointed if I have a bad one.

“The older and more experienced I have become the more I have learned to deal with mistakes.

“And if you get a little bump that dents your confidence, you have to move on from that and get by it. I am very confident in my own ability.”

Lewis produced a goal-keeping master class in the 0-0 draw with Hearts at Murrayfield in September, with three sensational saves.

He will be working hard with goalkeeping coach Gordon Marshall in Dubai to ensure he consistently reproduces that level.

For Lewis, a week in Dubai can be the catalyst for a successful second half of the season.

Last January the Reds spent a week in the United Arab Emirates and won 10 out of their 12 games upon their return to Scotland.

Aberdeen subsequently went on to secure second spot in the Premiership and reached the Scottish Cup final, losing 2-1 to Celtic at Hampden.

Lewis is hoping for a similar boost this year. He said: “We went on to have a great run of form after the break last year and that was down to our time in Dubai.

“To get away from the cold weather in Scotland for a week is massive for us and it is also brilliant for the players and staff to be away for that time together.”

The time in Dubai also offers the many ex-pat Dons fans based in the Middle East a rare opportunity to see the team in action and also meet the players.

Last January there was a successful golf day at Arabian Ranches Golf Club.

The competition consisted of 60 golfers playing alongside members of the first team squad.

Following the golf there was a barbecue and then a question and answer session with Derek McInnes, Tony Docherty and Barry Robson.

Aberdeen will have a golf day in Dubai again this week.

Lewis said: “There are a lot of ex-pats in Dubai who are Aberdeen supporters and it is great for them to come out and watch us train and play.

“The golf day was brilliant and it was great to meet the fans.

“Dubai was a big success last year and it is great to be out there again.”