Leith-al weapon Mackay-Steven out to add to his tally of goals in Aberdeen’s game against Hibs

Gary Mackay-Steven celebrating after scoring his first goal of the game to make it 2-0 against Hibs in the reverse fixture, Picture by Darrell Benns

Winger Gary Mackay-Steven has been terrorising defenders recently but today warned his best is yet to come.

That will be ominous for Saturday’s Premiership opponents Hibs who have suffered at the hands of the 27-year-old in recent clashes.

Scotland cap Mackay-Steven hit a hat-trick and provided an assist in a 4-1 defeat of Hibs in mid December.

He also netted the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Easter Road two months earlier.

Now as the Dons get ready to return to Leith, Mackay-Steven insists he has yet to hit top form.

He said: “There is certainly more to come from me.

“I feel in a good place as I love playing here at Aberdeen.

“We suit one another’s games and it has been a very good time for me. I am fit and healthy and have had a good run of games.

“However, I have still to hit my top form.”

Signed from Celtic in a £150,000 move last summer, Mackay-Steven has been instrumental in Aberdeen’s recent winning form.

He netted twice in the 4-2 Scottish Cup fifth round defeat of Dundee United at the weekend.

It was a continuation of his form in the tournament as his strike in the 4-1 defeat of St Mirren won best goal of the previous round.

However, the standard was set with Mackay-Steven’s sensational shift to spearhead the hammering of Hibs in December.

That was arguably Aberdeen’s best performance this season and Mackay-Steven was at the heart of it.

He admits that set the bar high but he is ready to reach those levels consistently as the season moves into the business end.

“I feel I can reach those levels I showed against Hibs (4-1) and it is just about doing that week in week out,” explained Mackay-Steven.

“I certainly feel very confident in my own ability going into every game and will hopefully continue to show that.

“I am just looking to contribute every time I step on the field.

“There are so many good players here and you can’t help but enjoy playing under the manager with the style of football we play.

“I feel confident and happy in my role and long may it continue.”

Mackay-Steven plays with the freedom of someone who is loving his football at the moment.

Aberdeen’s attacking philosophy, with 14 goals in the last four games, is clearly the perfect fit for the wide man.

He has been pivotal in Aberdeen’s recent form that has moved them to within eight points of Premiership leaders Celtic.

The Dons host Celtic at Pittodrie on Sunday, February 25, in a game that could be the catalyst for a title charge – if the Reds win.

However, Mackay-Steven refuses to look beyond the trip to Hibs on Saturday.

“If we keep picking up points we will see what happens,” he said.

“The main focus is just concentrating on our own game.

“It is important to get momentum and that comes with picking up victories and good performances.

“We have produced that in recent games.

“There are tough games coming up but we will go into them confident and looking to continue our winning run.”

Aberdeen have won five of the six games since the Premiership’s winter shutdown.

In those victories they have racked up 18 goals but that run is tainted by the 2-0 loss to Rangers in Glasgow, their third defeat to the Ibrox club this season.

Despite that, the Reds hold second spot with a three-point advantage over third-placed Gers.

In contrast Hibs have beaten Rangers twice at Ibrox this season, with their last match a 2-1 win.

“Hibs are a great side and have shown they are dangerous in all areas of the park,” said Mackay-Steven.

“It will be a tough game.

“We will look at their strengths and weaknesses but will ultimately focus on ourselves.

“We will look to stamp our game plan down there at Easter Road.

“It will be an exciting match and one we will go into with confidence.”

Aberdeen’s loss at Ibrox is the only aberration since coming back from the winter break.

Since that defeat in Govan the Reds have defeated Kilmarnock (3-1), Ross County (4-2), Hamilton (3-0) and Dundee United (4-2).

“It has always been the strength of the team that we can bounce back,” said Mackay-Steven.

“We can sometimes have a little setback – and then we move forward.

“The last few weeks have been pleasing as we have built up some momentum, so we just have to keep it going until the end of the season.”

Dons boss Derek McInnes took full advantage of the time off by taking his squad to Dubai for a week-long warm weather training camp. Mackay-Steven said: “The winter break is great as it energises you.

“It gave us an extra boost going into the second half of the season.

“The time away with the boys was great.

“We bonded and worked hard.

“We came back with a spring in our step and are ready to keep that momentum going in the next few games.”

The Premiership shutdown also allowed new signing Niall McGinn to work on his fitness having undergone hernia surgery in early December.

Having signed on until 2021 after a short spell in South Korea, McGinn made his debut as a substitute in the Scottish Cup defeat of St Mirren and has excelled since.

The return of the Northern Ireland international winger has ensured the Reds now have two in-form players marauding down the flanks.

He has already pitched in with two goals, one a run from his own half and superb finish, and a number of assists.

Both were influential in the defeat of Dundee United to set up a Scottish Cup quarter-final showdown with Kilmarnock at Pittodrie on the weekend of March 3.

Mackay-Steven netted twice against the Tangerines and set up the opener for Adam Rooney.

He said: “Dundee united wasn’t an easy game as they made it difficult for us.

“We got early goals that were important.

“Although they pulled one back we scored straight after that to get that confidence back.

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we wanted to go out and continue our form at home where we have scored a lot of goals.

“It was disappointing to concede two goals but overall we were good value for the victory.”