Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass will rebuild his squad with signings during the summer transfer window.
However, Glass feels like he already has a new player following the earlier than anticipated return to action of Ryan Hedges.
When the Welsh international suffered a pectoral injury on February 2, the initial prognosis was that his season was over.
A pectoral muscle had torn off the bone and Hedges had to undergo surgery and was in a cast for a further month.
Not only did he return to action early when coming off the bench in the 2-1 defeat of Livingston, Hedges marked his return with a goal within four minutes of his introduction.
Glass pinpointed how much Hedges’ influence has been missed in the last three months.
He said: “Ryan showed his obvious quality and it feels like a new player for next season already.
“I think the club has missed him, I think the team has missed him.
“To have him back with a few games left is a huge bonus.”
Hedges will now come into contention to start the make-or-break clash with Hibs at Pittodrie on Wednesday May 12 in the battle to finish third.
Hibs lost 1-0 to St Johnstone at the weekend and Aberdeen punished that slip-up to keep the fight for third alive.
Glass paid tribute to Hedges’ work ethic and determination to battle back to fitness – and also the club’s medical staff for assisting his return.
He said: “It is testament to how hard Ryan has worked to get back and testament to the medical staff and how hard they have worked to get him back.”
Aberdeen bounced back from the dismal 3-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final exit to Dundee United by securing a vital victory.
Glass was happy with the response from his players, having insisted they looked mentally and physically fatigued in the Scottish Cup exit last week.
It sets up a mouth-watering showdown with Hibs.
And Glass revealed news had filtered through to the Pittodrie dressing room at half-time that Hibs were trailing St Johnstone.
He used the prospect of a massive game against Hibs as “a carrot” to ensure they delivered a victory against Livingston.
On the bid to finish third, Glass said: “We’ve kept it alive.
“We knew the score from Easter Road at half-time, so it gave us a carrot to dangle in front of the players – can we set up a massive game next Wednesday?
“We know what we need to do, we know what we want to set up for the final day of the season.
“I’m just delighted for the players, they got the reward for their workrate and a bounce back from what happened last weekend.”
Aberdeen secured the three points courtesy of second half goals from on-loan St Johnstone striker Callum Hendry and Hedges. It was Hendry’s third goal for the club.
He is the only one of the three loan strikers secured on transfer deadline day to net in the Premiership. Florian Kamberi (St Gallen) has scored once in the Scottish Cup and Fraser Hornby (Stade de Reims) is yet to score.
Hendry was taken off injured, but Glass confirmed there are no concerns over his fitness.
Hornby came on as a substitute, but was also replaced due to an injury.
Glass said: “Callum is fine. It seemed like he tightened up as he got a little knock. I don’t think it is anything significant.
“I think Fraser is OK as well. It was more like a dead leg. He was sore, but we just felt we had to make the change quickly because of the pressure they were putting us under. “