Why Lewis was made Reds skipper

New Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis
New Aberdeen captain Joe Lewis

Dons boss Derek McInnes confirmed he chose Joe Lewis as club captain because the keeper commands respect from everyone within Pittodrie.

Lewis has taken over the captaincy from Graeme Shinnie who left in the summer for Derby County.

McInnes admits naming a keeper as club skipper is unconventional.

However, he insists Lewis’ influence off the pitch made the 31-year-old the natural successor to Shinnie.

The Dons boss also confirmed handing the armband to Lewis was reward for recently committing his future to the Dons in a five-year deal.

Lewis will tonight lead out Aberdeen in the Europa League first qualifying round first leg against RoPS Rovaniemi at Pittodrie.

Summer signings Craig Bryson and Greg Leigh are both in contention for game time against RoPS having returned to full training following injury problems.

McInnes said: “Joe has always been someone who has a great influence on the team and he is very mature.

“He is the ideal captain.

“Joe has that added responsibility of the captaincy now.

“I just want Joe to continue to be what he is.

“He doesn’t need to change anything because Joe is so well respected by his team-mates, the staff, everyone at the club and the supporters.

“Not only is he a regular and a top performer Joe has also shown a commitment to me and the club for the next five years which was a very important statement.

“Joe has shown that loyalty to us. When I was getting bad news after bad news with players leaving last season Joe committed to another five years.

“That was a real shot in the arm for me and everyone at the club. That commitment cannot be ignored.

“When we got round to talking about an extension it was clear how happy Joe was at the club and living in the city.

“That happiness has been reciprocated by us as we have been delighted with Joe.”

McInnes admits an outfield player normally takes on the captaincy but Lewis’ influence away from game action plays such a pivotal role for the club.

He said: “An outfield player on match day would be ideal for the captaincy but Joe’s qualities outweigh that.

“Monday to Friday off the pitch Joe does the right thing and everyone at the club – the staff, the players and supporters, all look up to him. He is a true captain in that sense and I think Joe will relish that role.

“I have liked a keeper to be captain in the 18-yard box as that is where he commands.

“It can be difficult when you have to influence the whole team as a keeper – however, there are loads of captains on the pitch anyway.”

McInnes had hoped to bolster his squad by signing a midfielder before Tuesday’s 11pm UEFA deadline to register two “wild card” players.

However, the deadline passed with no new additions. McInnes had targeted Dylan McGeouch of Sunderland.

However, Sunderland boss Jack Ross has confirmed he wants to keep the Scotland cap and insists the 26-year-old wants to remain at the Black Cats.

McInnes wanted a midfielder because Stephen Gleeson is out having undergone knee surgery and summer signing Bryson is recovering from ankle ligament damage sustained in April at former club Derby.

Bryson has came through full training this week but has had no game time during pre-season.

It is likely the midfield partnership will be teenagers Lewis Ferguson and Dean Campbell.

Left-back Greg Leigh, a summer loan signing from NAC Breda, limped off with an ankle injury just 20 minutes into the 1-1 draw with Inverness Caley Thistle on Saturday but has also returned to full training.

McInnes said: “Craig and Greg have trained. Craig has done a few days full training with the team and Greg trained yesterday.

“There are a few still not as fit as we would like them for such a high profile and important game at this stage of the season.

“A few players had surgery towards the end of the season.

“We were trying to get the likes of McLennan, McGinn and Bryson up to speed. A few boys will play tonight and be involved that are not at 100%.

“However, everyone has given themselves the best chance as the workload the players have attacked has been fantastic.”

Opponents RoPS have suffered a dip in form and are third bottom of their domestic league.

However, McInnes will not underestimate their threat.

He said: “Rovaniemi are a possession-based team and they set out to try to play.

“Although they have been a bit up and down this season it is clear when watching them there is quality within their team.

“Rovaniemi will want to defend properly and keep their shape.

“However, their good players in the team will all want to get on the ball and ask the question of us. Technically they are a very good team with good players and some real experience.

“While they may not have hit the form of last season, the previous campaign was very impressive from Rovaniemi.”

Aberdeen have confirmed they will listen to offers to send striker Stevie May out on loan.

St Johnstone, Ross County, St Mirren, Dundee and Dundee United are all interested in securing May who still has two years left on his Dons contract.

No decision is imminent.

McInnes said: “I spoke to Stevie on Monday and we are just focused on the game at the moment.

“That can sort itself out in the next few weeks but not now.”