Winger Gary Mackay-Steven today vowed to repay boss Derek McInnes’ faith by taking the second half of the season by storm.
The 27-year-old is grateful to his gaffer for signing him from Celtic in a £150,000 deal last summer and sticking by him after a night out went wrong.
McInnes backed the winger after he was pulled from a river in Glasgow in the early hours of the morning by emergency services in September.
Mackay-Steven, who is with the Dons in Dubai, produced one of the performances of the season with a hat-trick and assist in the 4-1 destruction of Hibs last month.
He aims to regularly hit those heights to pay back McInnes and help the Dons’ bid for Scottish Cup glory and in the league campaign.
And Mackay-Steven today also welcomed the added competition from winger Niall McGinn, who has re-signed until 2021.
Mackay-Steven said: “Ever since the manager brought me in I have been so thankful and I just want to repay him all the time.
“It is a case of just getting my head down and working as hard as I can, day in, day out, to show him what I can do on the pitch.
“I owe him a lot and I will be looking to repay that every day.”
Mackay-Steven is in Dubai for a second successive Premiership winter break but in very different circumstances.
Last year he flew to the Middle East with Celtic and faced an uncertain future having made just two starts under Brendan Rogers.
Now he is a regular starter with Aberdeen and happy.
He said: “I feel better in the place I am in now football wise.
“I am happy and I am using Dubai to kick on and hopefully have a great second half of the season.
“I feel good and ready to go.”
The competition for wide spots in Aberdeen intensified with Northern Ireland international McGInn returning to the club on a three-and-a-half year contract.
McGinn is working with the physios out here in the Middle East and McInnes hopes to have him available for the Scottish Cup tie against St Mirren a week today.
Mackay-Steven was secured from Celtic as a replacement for McGinn who rejected a new Dons deal last summer to move to South Korea.
When McGinn left Gwangju by mutual consent, Dons boss McInnes moved quickly to engineer his return.
Mackay-Steven relishes the competition of having McGinn back and insists it can only make the Dons stronger.
He said: “Niall signing is great all round for everyone as there is more competition which makes for a stronger squad.
“It can only benefit us.
“Niall has been a big player here before and everyone is delighted he is back.
“His return can only help us as a whole team in what we want to achieve.”
Mackay-Steven emphasised his own qualities with a superb display in the defeat of Hibs. He is determined not to let his standards drop.
“It was nice to close the year with some good performances but it is all about looking ahead and maintaining that,” he said.
“The second half of the season is the business end and where it counts.
“It is good to get all the work done out in the sunshine in Dubai and it will hopefully set us up well for the second half of the season.”
Aberdeen face Lokomotiv Tashkent of Uzbekistan in a friendly at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence tomorrow (4pm).
They will then jet home on Monday.
The winger reckons using the facilities in Dubai has only emphasised further the need for the Dons to have the £10 million training complex and £40m stadium at Kingsford given the green light.
A pre-determination meeting on the proposed stadium and training complex goes ahead on Wednesday.
He said: “Being in Dubai really emphasises the need for our own training facilities.
“The winter is always the most challenging months for training at the best of times.
“Having facilities where we can get changed and walk straight out on to a training park to do your work then come in and eat straight away is massive.
“It is one of the biggest things. It is really important we push for that and hopefully it gets the go-ahead.”