Aberdeen assistant manager Tony Docherty thinks there should be no raised eyebrows about interest in red-hot frontman Sam Cosgrove.
Middlesbrough No 2 and legendary Republic of Ireland hitman Robbie Keane was in the Granite City for the Dons’ 2-2 draw with Rangers on Wednesday, reportedly watching the 23-year-old Englishman.
Docherty revealed he had no clue during the Premiership battle Keane was looking on.
However, given Cosgrove has scored 18 goals in 23 appearances this season and 37 in the last 12 months, the Dons No 2 thinks the player deserves the attention.
In recent months not just Middlesbrough but English Championship stablemates Stoke City and Derby County have been linked to Cosgrove.
Docherty, who joked he’d heard all about Keane’s visit from the injured Niall McGinn – with the Dons winger sitting next to his former Celtic team-mate in the stands – said: “Niall McGinn let me know he’d sat beside him all night.
“I think Niall was trying to get a move, but I don’t know – I’ve been asked if he’d been up to watch Sam Cosgrove and I wouldn’t be surprised.
“Any player who’s putting in the level of performance Sam is – 18 goals in 22 starts – they’re incredible stats.
“I see Sam on a daily basis and he’s a great person first and foremost and a fantastic professional.
“You won’t see anyone who’ll work harder in terms of staying on at training – you’ve got to pull him off the training ground.
“He’s in the gym, he’s in the analysis room looking at the opponents and what he can do better.
“He’s a bit (Adam) Rooney- like in his preparation for games.
“He’s getting his reward for that, putting his work in during the week.
“It doesn’t surprise us.
“When a player’s doing as well as that, like Scott McKenna, obviously they’re going to attract attention.
“The other night, no doubt it will have been big Sam being watched. But it could have been some of the other players.
“It’s a win-win situation for us, because he’s doing the business for us.
“He’s a huge part of our squad and will continue to do that for Aberdeen.”
The Dons turned things around against Rangers, with Derek McInnes and Docherty’s men having found themselves 2-0 down after 30 minutes and seemingly heading towards another devastating defeat against one of the Glasgow sides.
However, Jon Gallagher’s goal before the break turned the game, with the passive, error-strewn Reds changing their shape, while dialling up their aggression and accuracy.
They were rewarded when Andy Considine netted the leveller in the second half.
Cosgrove – who’d committed a few niggly fouls in the first 45 minutes as he tried desperately to pull Aberdeen back into the game – even had a chance to secure all three points, but sent a back-post header agonisingly wide.
Docherty said: “Sam thrives on being the main man.
“I would always label him as trying his hardest.
“He gives absolutely everything.
“Sometimes things come off and sometimes they don’t.
“He does his utmost.
“I was gutted for him he didn’t manage to score that header, which he’d have scored night and day.
“He’s scored all sorts of goals this year, but that would have probably been the icing on the cake.”
With Rangers and Celtic in Betfred Cup final action tomorrow, a win at Hibs this afternoon would pull third-placed Aberdeen within six points of the Gers.
Docherty was keen to emphasise the effect the draw with Rangers had on the Dons squad’s psyche, after demoralising losses to the Gers (5-0) and Celtic (4-0).
They’ve picked up plenty of points but looked unconvincing at times this season.
The assistant boss added: “There’s a real buzz about the place. The players’ psyche has changed.
“It was a tough place for the first part of the game, but we made a subtle change because we weren’t getting a foothold in the game or keeping enough possession.
“We tweaked things, the players took it on board and we scored a goal.
“It just seemed to be a shot in the arm for everybody – the players and supporters.
“At half-time, which maybe came at the wrong time, we emphasised that.
“We told them to go and show we still had an enthusiasm, our competitive spirit and we did that second half.
“I think everybody takes a huge amount of confidence from that.
“Hopefully it can springboard us into another big game with Hibs away from home in terms of kicking on ahead of the winter break.
“We’re in a good place, four points ahead of where we were last year. Last year we were in seventh place.
“We hadn’t had a big result or performance yet and hopefully that was it on Wednesday night.”