Young midfielder Seb Ross is modelling his game on Craig Bryson as he tries to break into the Pittodrie first-team reckoning.
Reserve team skipper Ross, 19, is into the final 12 months of his Aberdeen contract and, after spending last season on loan at Stenhousemuir, hopes “this is the year” he breaks through.
To help him achieve this, Ross is trying to learn from summer signing Craig Bryson. Experienced box-to-box midfielder Bryson, 32, has started to show his quality for the Dons after joining from English Championship Derby County.
Asked who he aspires to play like in Derek McInnes’ first team, Ross said: “I’d say Bryson, because he gets about the place and chips in with a wee goal here and there.
“I think he’s a great role model since coming in. He helps all the boys.
“You saw from his performance on Saturday (in the 3-0 win over Kilmarnock) what a top player he is.
“I just try to mirror him, watch what he does, because he is such a good player.
“He’s had a great career down at Derby and now he’s come back up you see the impact he’s made.
“We’d lost a good few bodies and he’s eased that.”
Ross, whose younger brother Ethan is also in the Pittodrie set-up, thinks it’s his time to show he’s ready for a full Aberdeen debut, as well as the next step in Scotland’s age-group sides.
He said: “I just need to keep working hard, training hard, doing well in games and hopefully get my chance in the first team.
“I need to show I’m good enough and hopefully that gets noticed by the Scotland Under-21s manager.
“That’s been the aim for most seasons (to make the Dons first team). It’s never been out of my mind.
“But it’s getting to the stage now, in the last year of my contract, where I need to get my head down.
“This is the year, I’m confident.
“There’s a lot of things (I can improve on). Me and my brother are very critical of ourselves.
“But it’s good to have him there to keep us ticking along together.
“There are a lot of great midfielders in the first team, who will be hard to come against. But I need to keep working hard on every little thing.”
Ross spent last season at Stenny during their doomed League 1 campaign, where a play-off defeat to Annan saw them relegated, and it was certainly eventful, with injury, sackings and bigger crowds than he’d ever experienced before.
He made 22 appearances, scoring three goals, for the Warriors, and said: “It was my first loan away from Aberdeen. There were ups and downs – more downs with injury and the morale around the team. We tried to keep our heads up as much as we could when times were tough with the manager (Brown Ferguson) getting sacked. The games weren’t going our way most times.
“It was a big learning curve for me and one I’m looking to build on massively this season.
“Even physicality-wise. Playing against the players in League 1, you just get booted about the park, especially being young in the middle.
“Some of the players I came up against were quite good, I tested myself, and I chipped away with a couple of goals.”
Tonight, Ross will lead Aberdeen’s Colts out in the Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup semi-final against Highland League Formartine United at North Lodge Park.
With it being international week, they’ll be missing a few players, including his brother Ethan – who is away with Scotland’s U19s for the first time.
Ross said: “He’s away. He went away yesterday morning and there are a few of the other boys away too. Miko (Virtanen) is away with Finland and Luke Turner’s away with Ireland.
“But we’ve got a massive squad and there are plenty of boys to come in and do the job.”
The reserves were humbled 6-0 by Brora Rangers in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup, however they bounced back in the quarter-finals of the Shire Cup with a 5-1 quarter-final win over Banks o’ Dee.
Ahead of tonight’s test, Ross added: “You have to always look forward to these games, especially a semi-final.
“We have to be confident and here’s hoping we can get through to the final.
“They’ll get in our face physicality-wise, but I know we’ll stand up to that.
“We’ve been doing OK this season, there have been ups and downs, but we’re on the up again.
“We never treat any game as an easy game and every one we go into we know we’ll have to be at 100%.
“It’s quite close to my home, so I’ll have a few family members out to watch it and hopefully we’ll get the win.”