Derek McInnes believes Bruce Anderson is developing into a striker that can lead the line for Aberdeen.
In the Dons’ pre-season friendlies, the 21-year-old has made an impression.
He netted a brace in a 2-2 draw with Ross County and was also on the scoresheet in a 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone at Pittodrie earlier this week.
Anderson is set to feature in the Reds’ final friendly at home to Hibs this afternoon as he looks to continue pushing for a regular first-team role this season.
The youth academy graduate has had loan spells away from Pittodrie with Elgin City in League Two in the 2017-18 season – which yielded six goals in 14 games – and with Dunfermline in the Championship the following campaign, where he bagged five goals in 14 appearances.
At Aberdeen he’s been a regular scorer in the reserves over the last few years and in the first team he’s made 32 appearances, 29 of which have been as a sub, and scored three goals.
He marked his first-team debut with a 90th-minute equaliser against Rangers at Pittodrie on the opening day of the Premiership season two years ago, while last term he netted the winner in a 2-1 defeat of Livingston in the Granite City on Boxing Day.
Dons boss McInnes describes Anderson as a “fantastic finisher” and is pleased with his development as he tries to become an all-round striker and not just a deadly scorer.
He said: “I think it’s a big season for everyone, but I think for any of the younger ones the chance to come in and establish yourself is a big opportunity.
“But I think certain positions are a bit easier to establish yourself in than others.
“It’s a big ask to play as a No 9 and be Aberdeen’s main striker leading that line.
“Certainly what Bruce has been giving us is an indication of his progression. We believe in Bruce and we feel those improvements are in him.
“You can’t take away the fact that he knows how to finish.
“A lot of players develop at different ages – some will develop sooner, some will develop later.
“But certaintly the intelligence and nous needed to play No 9 for Aberdeen is important because you’ve got to try to do a bit of everything.
“Certainly Bruce is making improvements in his game and getting better at that.
“Behind it all he’s a fantastic finisher and the more goalscorers we’ve got at the club the better.”
McInnes says Anderson will get his opportunities in the first team this season if he keeps doing what he has been.
The Pittodrie gaffer added: “We can’t ignore that and as long as we keep getting those improvements from him then he’ll be there or thereabouts.
“He shouldn’t put too much pressure on himself.
“He’s in a good place working for a club that believes in him, staff that believe in him and our supporters believe in him as well.
“Everybody develops at different rates and the indications we’ve had from Bruce so far have been very pleasing.”
McInnes revealed, since Aberdeen returned for pre-season training, Anderson hasn’t missed a day because of any niggling injuries.
He believes the hitman is taking confidence from his fitness and has also been impressed with his desire to continue to improve.
McInnes said: “Bruce hasn’t missed a day and he’s worked extremely hard.
“We know he’s a good finisher and he’s demonstrated that in the games.
“But it’s the additional stuff I’ve spoken to Bruce about on several occasions.
“About looking for that link-up play and work-rate from him and the other areas. So his game is becoming a bit more rounded and complete because he’s been doing a lot to work on that.
“So I’m absolutely delighted with Bruce and what he’s giving us.
“He’s a boy that’s in a good place with his work and I think he’s taking confidence from his fitness and the fact he’s scored a few goals in pre-season.”