Kenny McLean reckons Aberdeen are capable of beating Celtic tonight and making a “massive statement”.
The Dons welcome the Hoops to Pittodrie this evening in a top-of-the-table Premiership clash.
Both sides have taken 23 points from a possible 27 so far this term, only a superior goal difference has Celtic ahead.
A win for Derek McInnes’ side would take them clear at the league summit after 10 matches.
Aberdeen have been unbeaten in Premiership action so far this season and have recorded three wins in a row beating Motherwell (1-0), St Johnstone (3-0) and Hibs (1-0).
The form of the Dons coupled with quality in their squad gives McLean the belief that they can win this evening.
A victory for the Granite City side would end a 60-game unbeaten run for Brendan Rodgers’ team.
And McLean, who has announced he will be leaving the Dons next summer when his contract expires, says his belief is shared by everyone in the Pittodrie dressing room.
The midfielder said: “We’ve had time to focus on Celtic, get ourselves ready and prepare for this game.
“We’ll go into it fresh with everyone ready to go and whoever is picked will be ready I have no doubt about that. We are a good side and we are more than capable of winning.
“We know we’ve got the quality, we know we’ve got the players who can hurt them.
“If we don’t have that belief there is no point in going out, and I think the belief is there in the changing room.
“And you’ll see that tonight.
“It would be a massive statement but it’s something that we’re more than capable of doing.
“The belief is there that we can do that. We’ve worked hard to get ourselves in this position, so we won’t give it up easily.”
While it is still early in the season, an Aberdeen win tonight may lead to some believing the Reds are capable of a sustained title challenge on Celtic as they managed in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons.
However, McLean is not getting ahead of himself.
He added: “It’s early in the season and we’ll take it game by game.
“It’s the phrase that everyone says, but that’s what we intend to do.
“There’s no bigger game than the one tonight.
“We are in a good position and we have put ourselves in that position by playing well throughout the season.
“We’re joint-top with them and we will be tough to move.”
Last season Aberdeen faced Celtic on six occasions and lost all of them.
The most painful one was in May’s Scottish Cup final with Tom Rogic’s injury-time strike making it 2-1 and breaking the hearts of the Red Army.
McLean says they have to be better against the Glasgow outfit this time.
He said: “We did well against them on a couple of occasions last season but at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough.
“We know what we need to do. We know we can hurt them and we know we’ve got the quality that can win the game.
“We’re in a good position in the league and we don’t intend to lose it easily.”
During his time at Pittodrie McLean has won one Scotland cap which came back in March 2016 in a friendly against the Czech Republic.
McLean is eager to be involved again with the national team.
Pittodrie will host the Dark Blues’ friendly with Holland on November 9 with Malky Mackay in interim charge of the team with the SFA yet to appoint a successor to Gordon Strachan.
McLean thinks playing against Celtic is a good opportunity for him to show he is ready for another international call.
When asked if he viewed tonight as a chance to show his quality, he said: “Of course it is and I’m sure every Scottish player wants to see their name in that squad, and I’m no different.
“We’ve been doing well as a squad and I’ve been improving as the season goes on, so you want that recognition from your country.
“I’d be delighted to be involved in that and I’ll work hard to get there.
“The game is going to be at Pittodrie, so it would make it great if me or any of the boys were involved.
“It’s something everybody wants to be involved in and something everyone is working hard towards.
“If you get that recognition it’s excellent.
“I think having the taste of it before makes you want more. I’m desperate to get back in the squad but I’ve got to work hard for it.”
Pittodrie is expected to be sold-out for tonight’s game and McLean can sense the anticipation among the Dons’ support and the city as a whole ahead of this match.
“We didn’t have a game last weekend so it’s something that we’ve been looking forward to for a while,” he said.
“We’ve had time to prepare for this game.
“I think around the whole city everybody has been anticipating this game and really looking forward to it.
“The players are ready to go and give everything.”