Former Don Paul Hartley says talk over captain Graeme Shinnie’s future won’t have any bearing on the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic.
Images circulating on social media yesterday appeared to show the out-of-contract midfielder being given a tour of Derby County’s Pride Park.
Shinnie is suspended for the Celts clash at Hampden and it is understood talks are under way with Frank Lampard’s English Championship outfit.
Shinnie, 27 – who has been offered a new deal at Pittodrie – is a “key player” for the Reds, according to Hartley. But he doesn’t think there’ll be any effect on morale at the national stadium over the news.
Hartley said: “The club’s bigger – there’s nobody else bigger than the club.
“Graeme will get himself sorted out one way or the other.
“If he stays or he doesn’t stay, it’s a big decision for him. He’s at the peak of his career just now.
“He’s got to take his time.But it won’t have a bearing on the game. Aberdeen have enough quality players to get a result.”
Reds boss Derek McInnes has been sweating over Shinnie and his fellow out-of-contract star, winger Gary Mackay-Steven, who is injured.
Other clubs linked to the captain include Luton Town and Birmingham City, while Mackay-Steven is being pursued by MLS side New York City.
However, McInnes has known since the 2-0 quarter-final replay win at Ibrox he won’t have Shinnie, pictured, on Sunday.
Hartley – who played for the Dons in season 2010/11, but missed a 4-0 Scottish Cup semi loss to Celtic with a career-ending knee injury – recognises what Shinnie brings to the team.
But he thinks 18-year-old Dean Campbell has shown he can hold his own on the big occasion if called upon.
Hartley said: “He’s been a key player for Aberdeen since he’s been at the club. He’s the captain, leader, they will miss him.
“But it gives somebody else the opportunity to step in and play well.
“Aberdeen have enough quality in the squad.
“Shinnie’s an important player, there’s no doubt about it. He gets the team going.
“But Derek will have his team in his head, which he’s probably worked on all week, and he’ll have someone to fill the Shinnie role.”
Hartley, who won the Scottish Cup with the Hoops in 2007, said: “Campbell did well at Ibrox. He’s a young kid and somebody you might want to throw in for the occasion.
“He didn’t have any fear in the last round. The manager was brave, put him in and the young man repaid him.”