Boss McInnes and his coaches have improved my game says O’Connor

Aberdeen's Anthony O'Connor.

Anthony O’Connor believes Dons boss Derek McInnes and his coaching staff have improved him as a defender.

O’Connor joined Aberdeen in the summer of 2016 from Burton Albion.

Last season he made 41 appearances for the Reds and, in his second season at Pittodrie, the Irishman is continuing to rack up the games.

He has been a permanent feature in the side, playing in all 14 matches so far this term.

O’Connor has been pleased with his performances so far this campaign and has been deployed at both centre-back and in central midfield.

The 24-year-old also reckons he has improved since arriving in the Granite City and thanks manager McInnes and his coaching staff for helping him get better.

He said: “I’m very happy with the way I’ve been playing, I think I’ve shown very good consistency every time I step on the pitch.

“I tell myself every time I go out to do the basics well and start well, and do well for myself and my team-mates and the staff.

“The staff have shown great faith in me not only this season but last season as well.

“It’s not easy when you’re coming in and I was thrown in at the deep end last season, so I can’t thank the staff enough for what they’ve done for me since I’ve been here.

“I knew what to expect because I have played in physical games and physical leagues before.

“I started the season well last year and I feel the manager and Tony Docherty and Barry Robson and all the coaching staff have really brought me on a long way as a player.

“I’m a better player now for it because of them.

“If I can keep putting in good performances for them and stay in the team then I think I’ll get better and better.”

O’Connor also thinks he will continue to get better as his confidence grows, something that he believes happens when you are playing every week.

However, he knows he can’t afford to have a dip in performance if he wants to remain a regular in the Dons side.

He added: “I think the more games you play and if you keep playing well, I think confidence will keep growing and growing.

“That’s the kind of player I am, the more I play and the better I play then confidence just oozes out of me when I know I’m playing well.

“It’s a great group of players we have, there are people we have who are disappointed not to be playing week-in, week-out.

“I feel so privileged to have been playing every week, but that doesn’t mean it will continue. I have to keep playing well to keep my place in the team. “Make no bones about it there’s always someone there waiting to take your shirt if your not bang at it every week.

“That’s what I’ll try to keep doing week-in, week-out.”

O’Connor also says that the competition for places within the Aberdeen squad has helped him improve.

Mark Reynolds, Kari Arnason and Andrew Considine can all play in the centre of defence.

Youngster Scott McKenna has also emerged in recent weeks and staked his claim with promising displays in Premiership wins against Motherwell and St Johnstone.

When asked if having competition in the squad helped raise his game, O’Connor said: “It does when you know you have so much quality on the bench.

“We have so many players in the squad who can come in and look as if they’ve never been out of the team.

“We have quality all over the squad.

“The manager can only pick 11 players each week and I’m lucky to have been one of them so far, so I’m looking to keep doing that for the rest of the season.

“But you have to take it game by game and try to do the basics well every week.

“But everyone is trying to get in the team and that drives everyone on to perform better every week.”

O’Connor also believes becoming more familiar with the strengths of his team-mates has also led to him improving since arriving in the Granite City.

“The more you play with someone the more it helps you get an understanding with them,” he said.

“It’s good to get the familiarity of players around you, knowing what they’re good at and where you should be when they have the ball, but it definitely helps the more you play with someone.

“The relationships we have in the dressing room are unbelievable and I think that shows on a Saturday with the commitment we put into the games.”

Aberdeen, unbeaten in the Premiership and second to Celtic in the table on goal difference, head for Easter Road this weekend to take on Hibs.

The Dons haven’t faced the Leith men in the Premiership since April 2014 when a double from Niall McGinn secured a 2-0 victory for the Reds.