There is no summer switch off in hunt for signings, says Aberdeen boss McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes

Boss Derek McInnes may have been on holiday but there was no switching off this summer as he rebuilds the Dons squad.

Amid the sun, sea and sand there were still calls to take with players and agents as well as deals to be made as McInnes prepares for the Europa League entry on Thursday July 11.

Despite the close season shut-down McInnes has continued his hunt for new signings, securing winger Ryan Hedges (Barnsley), Curtis Main (Motherwell) and Ash Taylor (Northampton Town) on contracts as free agents.

Aberdeen players have had time to unwind and will return for pre-season later this week before jetting out for a training camp in Cork on Monday.

However, for McInnes there was little down time as he worked to strengthen his squad in preparation for Europe and the domestic campaign ahead.

McInnes said: “I would love to switch off in the summer but I don’t.

“Management is not just standing in the dug-out on a Saturday. You are all in with it.

“Obviously it is important that you get that time and balance to rest with your family and try to switch off. However, I don’t switch off because the close season is normally busy between myself and my recruitment team.

“Even though we are not playing games the summer can sometimes be our busiest period.”

The Dons will spend a week at the Fota Island training resort in the south of Ireland where they will face Connah’s Quay Nomads of Wales in a friendly on Saturday June 29.

It is the beginning of the preparation for the European campaign where the Dons will be seeded for the first and, should they progress, second round draws.

They were set to find out their first round opponents today. Among the teams they could face were Liepaja of Latvia, Levadia Tallinn of Estonia, Wales’ Barry Town or Northern Ireland’s Cliftonville, Saint Patrick’s of Ireland, RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland and Ki of the Faroe Islands or Tre Fiori of San Marino.

McInnes is in the market for a midfielder during the summer transfer window.

He attempted to secure Scotland international Dylan McGeouch last summer but he opted to move from Hibs to League One Sunderland.

McGeouch only signed a one-year contract with the Stadium of Light side and the Dons were understood to be considering launching a fresh bid. The player was frustrated when Sunderland boss Jack Ross left him out of his 18-man squad that lost the League One play-off final to Charlton Athletic.

But Sunderland recently triggered a one-year extension clause in McGeouch’s contract until 2020. However, that does not necessarily close the door for a Dons move.

Aberdeen are also keen on Livingston midfielder Scott Pittman, but would have to pay a transfer fee to land him.

Livingston wanted a six-figure fee when the Dons enquired about Pittman during the January transfer window.

Since then Pittman has signed a one-year extension to his deal until summer 2021, which would further increase any transfer fee needed to secure him.

McInnes said: “We will try to bring in those new additions that will make us as competitive as we have always been over the last six years. We don’t have the money to throw at it, but we can recruit smartly.”

Aberdeen had not given up hope of convincing Scotland international winger Gary Mackay-Steven to remain at Pittodrie, but he could now be set to join Portsmouth.

Mackay-Steven’s Dons deal expires on June 30 and it is understood New York City, who made an approach for the winger in January, have cooled their interest. However, the Dons’ hopes he would sign a new deal appear to have been dashed, as it is understood he will pen a deal with Kenny Jackett’s Pompey this week.

Aberdeen’s Gary Mackay-Steven is injured following a challenge from Connor Goldson against Rangers.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen will also welcome back striker Bruce Anderson from a loan spell at Dunfermline.

The 20-year-old scored the Dons’ first goal of the domestic season when netting late on in the 1-1 draw with Rangers.

Scott Wright will also return from a loan period at Dundee.

McInnes is also buoyed by the experience Connor McLennan and Dean Campbell gained last season. Winger McLennan made 27 appearances with midfielder Campbell playing 10 times.

He said: “Next season we will also have players here who will be another year on.”