Teenage winger Connor McLennan today vowed to continue to repay the faith shown in him by manager Derek McInnes.
The Pittodrie gaffer turned to the 19-year-old during the Betfred Cup final on December 2 when Scotland international Gary Mackay-Steven was knocked unconscious in a sickening clash of heads with Dedryck Boyata.
Having suffered concussion, Mackay-Steven has been sidelined since, and McLennan started all eight Premiership games packed into December.
The Reds return of six wins from that run elevated them from the bottom six in the Premiership to within just three points of leaders Celtic and Rangers.
For the teenage star it is a position a club of Aberdeen’s stature, having finished league runners-up for the last four seasons, expect to occupy.
Mackay-Steven is expected to return to action after the winter break but McLennan’s emergence has certainly given McInnes selection options.
And McLennan, who has netted twice this season, is ready and willing to start again for the Dons if required.
He said: “The manager has shown faith in me to keep me in the team and hopefully I have repaid him.
“I have played since the cup final which has been great for me personally and hopefully I can kick on in the New Year as well.
“The manager knows what he is going to get from me and I will do all I can to make sure I am doing the job out on the pitch.
“There are some brilliant wingers at the club and it was just about taking that chance when it came.
“I was confident enough that if I did get a chance I could go on a wee run.
“I think I have done that and we have got some good results in December.”
Aberdeen went into the Premiership shut-down just three points behind leaders Celtic and Rangers, with Kilmarnock third.
Prior to the League Cup final at the start of December, the Dons had suffered a stuttering start to the league campaign and were languishing in the bottom half of the table.
Now, as they ready to jet out for a warm weather training camp on Tuesday, the Reds are in the mix of the most competitive title race for almost a decade.
McLennan said: “We have climbed the table in December and racked up the points so hopefully we can push on now in the second half of the season.
“For a big club like Aberdeen, up there near the top of the table is where we expect to be.
“A club like us needs to be near the top of the table and we will fight to stay there for as long as we can.”
Following the injury to Mackay-Steven, Pittodrie youth graduate McLennan was thrown into the deep end – straight into a cup final against double treble winners Celtic and then a trip to Rangers just three days later.
Aberdeen rallied from the cup final loss to triumph 1-0 at Ibrox with McLennan playing a pivotal role in the victory.
Just days after that Old Firm double-header, Aberdeen tied the Peterhead-born talent to an extended contract until summer 2021.
McLennan said: “I played through most of December which has been incredible for me.
“I want to play in every game, just as every player does.”
Having been at Pittodrie since the age of eight, McLennan made his first team debut at 16 in a 3-0 loss to St Johnstone in April 2016. He had to wait more than two years, and via a loan spell at Brechin City, for his first start.
That came in the 4-1 League Cup defeat of St Mirren in October, where he also scored a spectacular goal.
He finished a break-through year with an eighth straight start in the 2-1 victory at Livingston.
He said: “Livingston had a few good results against some of the good teams in the league so we knew what we would be in for.
“We had a game plan and managed to carry that out to get the win we wanted.
“When we got the first goal we were comfortably of pushing on and getting another goal.
“Even when Livingston scored we were confident enough we could pull through for the win.”