Attacker Ryan Hedges aims to emulate former Pittodrie loan star Simon Church by using Aberdeen to realise his Euro finals dream.
In January 2016, striker Church agreed to a loan deal at Aberdeen from MK Dons because he needed to star at a high level to secure selection to the Welsh squad for the Euro 2016 finals.
It paid off as Church, who netted seven times in 13 appearances for the Dons, was named in Chris Coleman’s squad for the finals in France.
Church played in group matches against Sweden and Russia and also featured in Wales’ 2-0 semi-final loss to Portugal.
When I signed I said to the manager it was my aspiration to get into the Euro squad.
“The manager told me about Simon Church and said there is no better place to be than Aberdeen for that.”
Already on eight goals this season, Hedges is determined to force his way into Wales boss Ryan Giggs’ plans for the Euro 2020 finals next summer.
That begins with the World Cup qualifiers against Belgium and Czech Republic in March.
Hedges said: “When I signed I said to the manager it was my aspiration to get into the Euro squad.
“The manager told me about Simon Church and said there is no better place to be than Aberdeen for that.
“The World Cup qualifiers in March is something I really want to aim for.
“There’s also the Euros at the end of this season.
“Obviously they have a lot of talented players in the Welsh set-up.
“I just need to keep my head down, keep working and keep helping Aberdeen and then see what happens come March – and then come the summer.”
Hedges was last called into the Welsh squad in November last year for the Euro 2020 group clash with Hungary at Cardiff City Stadium.
He did not make the game squad for the 2-0 win that secured Euro qualification, but squad selection underlined Hedges was firmly on Giggs’ radar.
Hedges subsequently suffered a dip in form at club level in the second half of last season, but has started this campaign in impressive form.
Former Swansea City trainee Hedges has won three caps since making his Wales debut in November 2017 against Panama.
Hedges is delivering a powerful argument for selection for the World Cup qualifiers.
The opening goal in the 2-0 defeat of Kilmarnock was his eighth of the season and the attacker has also pitched in with a number of assists.
He said: “As a front player, you are looking for as many goals as you can and as long as I’m contributing, that’s the main thing.
“Every player before a season will want to do really well and setting little goals and targets can help you along the way.
“You can see where you are and see how you are progressing and, personally, how you are doing.”
Hedges revealed manager McInnes demanded at half-time at Kilmarnock that the Reds shoot more in the second half.
McInnes was frustrated at a number of wasted opportunities in the opening 45 minutes at Rugby Park.
Hedges responded with a shot that deflected in off Stuart Findlay for the opener.
He said: “The gaffer spoke to us at half-time.
“I had an opportunity when I should have pulled the trigger, but didn’t (in the first half).
“He said, when we get into the forward positions you have to get a shot off, and that if you don’t shoot, you don’t score.
“After having that drilled into me at half-time, it was definitely at the forefront of my thinking when I picked up the ball.
“I started driving and, luckily, it went into the net.”
Hedges has already doubled his goal tally for last season when he netted four times in his debut campaign with the Reds.
I’m not ahead of where I wanted to be in terms of goals at this stage of the season – if anything, I’m behind.”
Despite that tally the Welsh international insists he had hoped to have netted more goals by this stage in the campaign.
Hedges said: “I’m not ahead of where I wanted to be in terms of goals at this stage of the season – if anything, I’m behind.
“I want to keep getting more goals and keep contributing to help the team do well.”
Hedges is second in the Dons’ scoring charts this season behind Lewis Ferguson, who has netted nine times.
Last season’s leading scorer Sam Cosgrove, who netted 23 goals in 2019-20, has struggled to rediscover his form having missed three months of the campaign with fractured knee cartilage.
Cosgrove came off the bench at Kilmarnock and netted an injury-time free-kick to take his tally for the season to two goals.
Hedges said: “Obviously, there had been a few tough games for Sam with very little service.
“It was nice to see him getting back on the scoresheet and, hopefully, he carries on.”