Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass has challenged keeper Joe Lewis to focus on rediscovering his form and not search for answers as to why he was dropped.
Club captain Lewis, 34, was relegated to the bench for the recent 2-1 loss to Celtic.
It was the first time Lewis has been a substitute since signing for Aberdeen in summer 2016.
Lewis paid the price for a number of costly errors during Aberdeen’s worst run of form since 2010.
Replacement Gary Woods, 31, is set to retain his starting slot in Saturday’s Premiership clash at bottom side Dundee.
Glass has challenged Lewis to shine during training to in the battle to earn back the number one position.
He said: “Joe needs to get back to training and being the Joe Lewis that everybody knows he can be.
“Performances have not been what they should be.
“I was pretty clear to Joe that for him personally, not to make it more than that.
“Not to start searching for answers and being different.
“It is important that Joe gets back to what he can be during the training to dislodge Woodsy.”
Change of keeper for Celtic clash
Since signing more than five years ago Lewis started every single game he was fit and available for. Only suspension and injury ruled him out.
He racked up 234 straight starts in the games he was available – until losing his place for the loss to Celtic before the international break.
Lewis made a costly mistakes in the previous game, a 3-2 loss to St Mirren, when coming out to meet a ball into the box and completely missing it.
The ball flew into the empty net for St Mirren’s winner in Paisley.
Following that defeat Glass confirmed he would assess Lewis during training in the build up to the Celtic game before having a discussion with the keeper.
The outcome was Lewis being dropped and Woods coming in for his first start since a 1-0 loss to Hibs on May 12, when Lewis was out with an injury.
Glass is keen to downplay the significance of changing keepers and insists it is a position, like every other, where players are competing for starts and form dictates who is selected.
He said: “It does get magnified when you change your goalkeeper.
“However Joe and Woodsy are competing for a place the same as a number of players across the pitch.
“For ourselves and the goalkeepers it is important it is not seen as more than that.
“Joe understands and knows he has been competing for a place with Woodsy.”
Still no clean sheet despite keeper switch
Aberdeen were 11 games without a clean sheet when Lewis was dropped.
Starting Woods did not end that barren shut out run as the summer signing, who was on loan at Pittodrie from Oldham last summer, was left exposed by his defence for both Celtic’s goals in the 2-1 loss.
One of the Dons’ stand-out players such was Lewis’ consistently high level of performance he was snapped up on a five year contract extension in May 2019 until summer 2024.
Lewis was also made captain but relinquished that role on the pitch this season following the signing of former Celtic skipper Scott Brown in a player-coach role on a two year deal.
The veteran remains club captain for matters off the pitch.
This season Lewis’ stats have dropped.
In the previous campaign, 2020-21, he secured 17 clean sheets in 35 Premiership games – a 49% shut out return.
This season Lewis registered just one shut out in the Premiership, a 2-0 defeat of Dundee United in the opening league game of the season, on August 1.
In seven Premiership games Lewis has just one shut-out for a return of 14%.
With one clean sheet in 14 games Lewis has started in all competitions that shut out return drops to 7%.
In Lewis’ previous five seasons at Aberdeen his save percentage never dropped below 60% – this season it is down to 47.1%.
Glass said: “Every other team in the league has probably chopped and changed their goalkeeper a number of times during that period.
“So it is no surprise there is a change when performance level dips for a little bit.”