Boss Derek McInnes has backed January signing Ronald Hernandez to kick on and make an impact at Aberdeen.
Venezuelan international Hernandez was secured on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Norway’s Stabaek on transfer deadline day.
The 22-year-old, capped 15 times, made his debut when starting in the 1-0 loss to St Johnstone at Pittodrie on February 5.
Hernandez has not had game time since that debut as he worked on building up match fitness.
On signing, Hernandez had not played since the final game of the Norwegian season on December 1 – a 1-1 draw with Tromso.
McInnes accepts after two months without competitive action it would take time for the right-back to fully get up to speed.
Hernandez stepped up his fitness bid when playing 90 minutes of the development team’s 3-1 Reserve Cup semi-final defeat of Motherwell on Monday.
McInnes said: “Ronald was clearly a boy who had not played for a while and we needed to get him up to speed.
“We needed to get him moving again as Ronald had not played 90 minutes since early last December.
“Although he is a naturally fit boy and has been training, there would be an understanding if it was one of our own players coming back through pre-season. We needed to get him going and to taper his training to achieve that.
“We brought in a young player with potential and there is an understanding that Ronald had not played 90 minutes recently.”
The Norwegian season ended with that match on December 1, though Hernandez was involved in Stabaek’s pre-season preparation for the new campaign. He was to face Grorud in Stabaek’s first friendly of the pre-season on transfer deadline day but pulled out to complete the move to Aberdeen.
McInnes is confident now that he is closing in on full fitness Hernandez will make an impact.
He said: “I think Ronald is a player our supporters will enjoy watching.
“He is a young player who is desperate to do well for Aberdeen. Without putting too much pressure on him, I think he will do well here.”
Hernandez was one of three Aberdeen first-team players to start in the Reserve Cup semi-final victory at Broadwood.
Welsh international winger Ryan Hedges and on-loan Atlanta United attacker Jon Gallagher also started for the reserves.
Aberdeen’s Development team will face Celtic in the final.
Meanwhile, McInnes’s senior team will also continue their bid for silverware when facing St Mirren away in the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
McInnes hopes to have midfielders Craig Bryson and Funso Ojo back for the cup tie, with both missing the 2-1 loss to Ross County at Pittodrie.
Bryson was absent due to a groin strain and swelling on an ankle, while Ojo was out having suffered a gash to a knee in the 2-1 loss to Celtic.
McInnes said: “We will manage their training and recovery this week to make sure we are as fresh as we can be going down to St Mirren for the Scottish Cup tie.”
Aberdeen’s recent upturn in form was dented when squandering a one goal advantage at home to lose to Ross County.
The Reds had to play almost an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of teenage midfielder Dean Campbell for a second yellow card.
McInnes said: “Ross County was a sore one for us because the players put so much into it and I thought we earned a point.
“Unfortunately, that was not to be and you never know how important that point could be.
“The upturn in performances have been there and I am not going to let the Ross County result derail what has been a good spell for us. We will be ready for St Mirren.”