Starlet Connor McLennan says making starts for the Dons gives him confidence because he knows he’s keeping some of Premiership’s top attackers on the bench.
The winger has made 15 appearances for Aberdeen so far this season. Eight of those games have been starts and he is in contention to start again tonight when Hamilton visit Pittodrie.
On Saturday McLennan made his first start since the winter break and helped the Reds to a 2-0 win against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
It was only his third appearance in 2019 after spending some time on the sidelines due to a knee injury.
Winning back a starting place wasn’t easy for the 19-year-old given that he is competing with Niall McGinn, Greg Stewart and Gary Mackay-Steven for a spot in the Aberdeen team.
If McLennan keeps his place tonight it’s likely one of McGinn, Stewart and Mackay-Steven won’t start.
And McLennan takes pride from being in a position where he is competing with three of the top attackers in Scotland for a place in the Dons side.
He said: “There is massive competition here and you need to do well to play.
“There’s Niall McGinn, Greg Stewart and Gary Mackay-Steven who are three of the best attacking players in the league,
“It’s tough, but I am learning so much from them in training and they give me tips all the time so they make it easier for me.
“It’s great to play with them.
“The three of them are different and sometimes they don’t have to say much to you.
“Sometimes they can just look at you and give you a tip regarding something.
“It’s great to be playing with these players and it makes things easier for myself.
“Being in the team gives me confidence and competition for places is good – it’s healthy.
“They are as pleased for me as I am for them when they play so it’s good.”
Having some time out since the turn of the year has been a frustration for McLennan after he started six of Aberdeen’s nine matches in December. But he says the knee problem which kept him out is no longer an issue.
McLennan added: “I’m fine now after my time out. I had a little bit of bother with my knee but I’m fine now.
“I’m just trying to get my fitness back and match sharpness up after being injured.
“It was a niggly sort of injury really, we managed it and hopefully that can be the end of it now.”
After making his first start of the year at Perth on Saturday McLennan is keen to keep his place, but admits the most important thing is that the Dons are winning games.
He said: “It was good to start on Saturday. I was chomping at the bit to get a start because it was my first this calendar year.
“It was good to play and hopefully I can just keep going like that.
“I definitely feel I can make an impact in games and that is what I’m here to do.
“I can bring pace to the team and hopefully I can bring as many of my attributes to the team and do well.
“The main thing is for the team to get the three points every time we play.
“Obviously I want to play, but the main thing is that the team is winning and the manager will pick the team to do that in each game.”
McLennan was pleased with Aberdeen’s victory at St Johnstone and wants to keep the momentum going against Hamilton this evening.
Brian Rice’s Accies are 11th in the Premiership and battling against relegation, while the Dons are third and scrapping for European places and a five successive top-two finish.
McLennan said: “It was a very good performance in terms of the control we had and it can be very difficult at St Johnstone.
“We knew it was a tough game for us and an important one so it was good to the get three points.
“It’s another tough game against Hamilton – a big game for both teams and it will be tough to get the points.”