Aberdeen’s utility man Dominic Ball is focused on playing as much as he can to help the Dons’ charge for second place.
Derek McInnes’ men are now three points clear of rivals Rangers and Hibernian, with the pair set to visit Pittodrie in the next two rounds of post-split games.
Neil Lennon’s Hibs come to the Granite City on Saturday, before the Gers, who parted with boss Graeme Murty this week, arrive on Tuesday.
Two wins will guarantee second in the Premiership for the fourth successive season and, if Celtic win the Scottish Cup over Motherwell, entry to the Europa League’s second qualification round.
After patchy appearances in a red shirt this season and a day to forget at right-back in the Reds’ dismal Scottish Cup semi with the Steelmen, on-loan Rotherham United player Ball has come on to a game in the post-split fixtures.
A solid showing in defensive midfield in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park was followed by another good performance in the 2-0 win against Hearts at home on Friday – which saw him named in the SPFL team of the week.
Of his redemption after the Dons’ nightmare at Hampden on April 14, Ball said: “It’s been a lot better for me personally.
“Obviously the game at Hampden, the semi-final, was tough to take for everyone, especially myself.
“But it was good of the manager to show trust in me and put me back in.”
For Motherwell’s first goal in a 3-0 win in the cup game, Ball stopped as his opposite number Richard Tait burst into the box.
Ball appealed to referee Kevin Clancy as the ball had struck Tait’s hand, but play went on and the Well left-back picked out Curtis Main to bundle home.
This mistake was the first of many on the day by Reds players, and one which has only strengthened Ball’s desire to make something of his final few games with McInnes’ side before an uncertain future.
He said: “I thought I started well. The first 20 minutes I started well.
“I think possibly the lack of game time I had might have been the reason why I stopped.
“Looking back there’s no excuse for stopping during the game.
“But I thought it was a handball – and it was a handball.
“It’s still not an excuse to stop.
“For me it was done then, it was only 1-0 and we still had a massive chance.
“But on the day it just wasn’t for us. I took two or three days (to get over it).
“It was disappointing because we all thought we were going to be in a final.
“It took me two or three days personally to get over it, but then the manager said ‘look, it’s done now, we’ve five massive games, we need to get second, it’s done’.
“I think everyone thought ‘we’ll move on’ and it lifted the spirits.
“The environment around Pittodrie recently has been very good and we’re looking forward to the games coming up.”
He added: “I just want to play. I’ve filled in for (right-back) Shay (Logan) when he’s not been there and not been available.
“Most of the games have been in that holding midfield role.
“I feel like I’ve started to get my rhythm now.
“I know it’s coming to the end of the season, but that’s exactly what you need, a few games.”
At the end of the campaign, Ball will only have 12 months left on his contract with Rotherham and it is unclear whether he will ply his trade there, at Pittodrie or elsewhere next term.
The big Englishman has featured 16 times (eight starts) for Aberdeen this term – a number he admits he’d hoped would be larger.
However, with two of his three full 90 minutes coming in the past two matches, there appears to be a real opportunity for him to show what he can do in the final three league games.
Then, and only then, will he think about next season.
Ball, who still believes there have been plenty of “positives” for him this campaign, said: “I haven’t played as much as I wanted to.
“I think I came here to start and I wasn’t fit enough. I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
“Until Christmas I wasn’t at the level I should have been.
“I think after Christmas I’ve settled a bit and I’ve been in (the team) a bit more.
“Hearts and Kilmarnock were the first two (full) games in a row I’d had.
“I want to build on that, once I’ve put a base down.
“To improve, you have to be playing. I’ve started looking at games and going ‘ok, I can do that better’.
“It’s been disappointing, but hopefully I can play as much as possible between now and the end of the season.
“It’s three cup finals and we just want to get the three points.”
Ball added: “I’m not really focused on it (next season) at the moment.
“There are three games left of the season and I just want to play as much as I can for the rest of the season and, when it comes to that, I’ve got another year at Rotherham,
“I’m still contracted with them.
“What I’ll do next year I’ve no idea. I’ll have to wait and see.”