Departing midfielder Kenny McLean has tipped rising Pittodrie teen star Dean Campbell to fill the void left by his exit next season.
Scotland international McLean has rejoined parent club Norwich City having been loaned back to the Dons following his switch to the Canaries in January.
Dons boss Derek McInnes faces the problem of replacing the 26-year-old and recently admitted it will be tough to secure “like for like” with signing of McLean’s experience and calibre on the club’s budget.
McInnes has inquired about Peterborough United midfielder Chris Forrester who was recently placed on the transfer list by the League One outfit.
The Dons manager has also approached the Posh regarding defender Jack Baldwin who can also operate in central midfield.
Baldwin was also transfer listed by Peterborough.
However, McLean reckons Aberdonian Campbell, a product of the Pittodrie youth system, can also challenge for a midfield berth.
Campbell was sent on for the final 25 minutes of the 1-0 win over champions Celtic at Parkhead for his first game of the campaign.
The 17-year-old excelled as the Reds ended a 25-game run at Parkhead dating to 2004 without earning a point to secure a runners-up finish.
McLean said: “With me leaving there is a place to be taken.
“You don’t want to put too much pressure on young boys but I think Dean can handle it.
“He is ready. Dean has been training with us (Dons first team) for a long time and there are places up for grabs.
“He needs to take them. “When Dean comes in for pre-season I am sure he will have worked hard over the summer and will come straight back into the big games for the club.
“There is a massive opportunity there and I have no doubt Dean can take it.
“Dean was thrown into the deep end a wee bit against Celtic but the manager knew he could deal with that situation.
“He was excellent. Dean showed so much composure on the ball and he is one for the future.”
Aberdeen boss McInnes introduced Campbell for on- loan Birmingham City attacker Greg Stewart in the 65th minute of a high pressure game at Parkhead.
The teen produced an impressive performance with a maturity way beyond his years. McInnes predicts a bright future for the U20 captain who led the young Dons to the Scottish Youth Cup final this season.
McInnes said: “Dean is going to be a brilliant Aberdeen player but he is still just only 17.
“He is a boy I have a lot of time for both as a person and as a player.
“Dean is as big an Aberdeen supporter as anyone in that away end and it was special for him. He saw his dad and uncle in the crowd at the end and it was a special moment for him. It is good to see that. We need that core of Aberdeen supporters within our team as it helps us get a wee bit more out of the club.”
Highly rated Campbell became the youngest player to feature for Aberdeen in a first team match when he came on as a substitute in the 3-1 defeat to Celtic last May.
At 16 years, one month and 23 days, Campbell beat the previous youngest mark set by Jack Grimmer against Rangers.
On the day of that debut last May, Campbell had sat an English exam at Hazlehead Academy in the morning, then faced Celtic in the evening match. He turned full-time with the Reds last summer.
McInnes had considered playing Campbell in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell (3-0 loss) as he faced a midfielder crisis.
Influential duo Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean were both suspended for that Hampden clash.
However, Campbell had only recently returned from injury having suffered a ruptured ligament in an ankle.
McInnes said: “Dean was one I would have thought about for the semi-final because we were light in midfielders.
“But he was only days back from a long-term injury.
“When you play against a team like Celtic, when the game is a technical one with spaces and the grass is good, I would take Dean to play that type of game all day.
“When Celtic changed their shape to that 3-1-3-3 to make it more of a running game we needed another midfielder in the middle of the park.
“We needed a midfielder and to go to a diamond.
“I had absolutely no hesitation in putting Dean on.
“Dean played the left-hand side of that diamond with Gary Mackay-Steven out there.
“Dean looked after the ball and worked hard.
“He plays with intelligence and hopefully that whets the appetitive for Dean to feature more.”