Mikey Devlin says work is still ongoing to turf out the Premiership’s artificial pitches.
The Aberdeen defender, who is vice-chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Scotland, is set to line up on a plastic park when the Dons visit Livingston on Saturday.
The Tony Macaroni Arena is one of three top-flight grounds with synthetic surfaces – Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park and Hamilton’s New Douglas Park are the others.
Across the Championship, League One and League Two there are 13 artificial pitches.
In February the PFA submitted a petition to the SPFL calling for synthetic surfaces to be banned from the Premiership.
The players in the Championship, Leagues One and Two also want a blanket policy introduced to ensure all pitches – grass or artificial – are maintained to the highest possible standard.
Players with Livingston, Kilmarnock and Hamilton were not asked to sign the petition because it was felt it would be unfair given their employers use plastic playing surfaces.
Submitting the petition was a big step from the PFA and Devlin, who came through Hamilton’s youth set-up before joining Aberdeen in January 2018, says work is still ongoing to make the players’ target a reality.
The 25-year-old said: “The petition was a big statement at the time and off the back of that the results were very much in our favour.
“It’s something that will take a bit of time – we are working hard behind the scenes on it.
“I think after asking the players to sign a petition it’s important we use that in the best way we can and look at what the next steps are.
“It’s still very much at the forefront of what we are trying to do.
“As the PFA representing all the players in Scotland we need to work on behalf of them and do what’s best.
“The players signing the petition shows that they aren’t comfortable playing on artificial pitches.
“We’ll continue to do what we do as a committee to make sure we represent the players and try to keep moving in the right direction.
“There’s communication with the SPFL. Fraser Wishart, the PFA chief executive, is in contact with the SPFL and putting ideas forward.
“Communication is important and we need to work with clubs as well and connect with the right people in clubs and try to work with them and the SPFL to come to a solution.
“It won’t be a short-term fix, it will be something that takes a bit of time.
“I think we’ve got the ball rolling and it’s credit to the PFA that we’ve stepped up and showed players don’t think it’s acceptable the way things are.
“It will be a bit of a slow burner but it’s something we’re still working on.”
Before joining the Dons Devlin trained and played on Hamilton’s artificial pitch. Although he was used to that with the Accies he believes the Premiership needs all grass surfaces for the betterment of the game.
He added: “It was what I was used to coming through at Hamilton.
“When you’re in an academy at any club generally you train on the artificial surfaces and most of the time you play on it as well.
“I was used to it – but I think everybody would rather play on grass.
“In the Premiership if we can get grass pitches across the board I think it makes for a better product. I also think visually on television it looks better and I think we can attract better players.
“That might be something players look at if it comes to joining a Scottish club, whether there are artificial pitches in the league.
“All in all I think the more grass pitches we get in the league the better it is for everyone.
“I had to get used to playing on an artificial pitch, but that’s part and parcel of football.”
Although Devlin wants plastic parks banned from Scotland’s top flight, he doesn’t subscribe to the belief held by many that synthetic surfaces cause more injuries.
Artificial pitches are often blamed for increased knee and ankle problems. But Devlin, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament at New Douglas Park in May 2017, doesn’t buy that theory.
He said: “It’s hard to tell about injuries on artificial pitches.
“The first time I did my knee Danny Ings and Joe Gomez at Liverpool both ruptured their cruciates around that time.
“Those two were playing and training on some of the best pitches in Europe.
“I think it’s difficult to pin-point the pitch – a lot of it is bad luck.
“I haven’t tried to pin-point why it happened because you’d drive yourself insane trying to find a reason for that.
“I don’t think the pitch is a massive contributor because there are a number of factors.”