Summer signing Ryan Hedges believes he is quickly adjusting to the must-win mentality demanded at Aberdeen.
The 24-year-old Welsh international experienced the pressure of needing to win every game last season during a successful promotion push to the Championship with Barnsley.
However, he admits that heat and expectation have ramped up at Aberdeen, where a push to the upper reaches of the top-flight and cup success are demanded.
In the aftermath of the recent 0-0 stalemate with Kilmarnock, Dons boss Derek McInnes called, for his summer signings to adjust to that must-win mindset.
Hedges reckons both he and his team-mates responded by delivering a 3-0 defeat of Ross County at Pittodrie.
He said: “When coming here, the gaffer drilled into me that there is a need to win.
“You saw that with the result at Kilmarnock with a 0-0 draw away from home.
“Some teams would probably take that, but not at Aberdeen.
“That is something that the manager has made sure we are all aware of.
“It is something that we need to better ourselves with.”
Hedges returned to the starting line-up against Ross County having dropped to the bench for the stalemate against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
He delivered an assist and a goal as Aberdeen went into the international break on a positive note and having halted a recent dip in form.
Aberdeen had failed to score in four of the five games prior to the Ross County win and the misfiring attackers and wingers came in for criticism.
Hedges accepts that is inevitable at a club like Aberdeen, where high expectations arethe norm. For the former Everton trainee, pressure is not a weight to buckle under, but brings extra motivation that he relishes.
Hedges said: “Last season at Barnsley I was in a team that was going for promotion and we had that will to win and that need to win.
“That got us to the Championship last season.
“That pressure comes and we need to deal with that and turn it into confidence and three points.
“It is always good to play with that added pressure that you need three points more than just want three points.”
Hedges has made an immediate impact after signing a three-year contract at Pittodrie earlier this summer.
He rejected the offer of a new contract with Barnsley in the Championship, having made 25 appearances in their promotion-winning campaign.
Having delivered the cross for the opening goal against Ross County, the winger also pitched up at the back post to net the third goal.
The victory ended a two-game Premiership winless streak for the Dons, who are now in fourth spot in the table, only two points behind second-placed Rangers.
He said: “It is always nice to get goals and assists but the main thing was the three points.
“If you take out the St Mirren result (1-0 away loss), seven points from 12 is probably an OK return.
“It is something to build on when we come back from the international break.
“It was an important win because you don’t want to go into an international break on the back of a loss.
“If you do then that is all you are thinking about during the break.
“Now we have the three points, the lads that are not on international break can have a few days to rest, recover and get ready for the next game.”
Hedges confirmed the move for the opening goal against Ross County, where he delivered the cross that Greg Leigh headed home, was straight off the training pitch.
Niall McGinn played a free-kick wide to Hedges instead of delivering it directly into the congested penalty area.
Hedges quickly whipped in a cross from the right into the danger area.
Aberdeen had worked on that move in training in the week prior to the match.
He said: “It is always nice when something from the training pitch works in a game.
“The gaffer and the coaches will be really pleased with that one.
“It was the perfect time for it to come off.”
Scoring and pitching in with an assist in a comfortable victory was the perfect send-off before meeting up with Ryan Giggs’ Wales squad ahead of Friday’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Azerbaijan in Cardiff.
The Welsh will also host Belarus in a friendly in Cardiff on Monday.
Hedges was advised by Welsh boss Giggs that regular action for Aberdeen would keep him in his international plans.
That has paid off and now the winger is hoping to add to his three caps.
He said: “It is always nice to get the international recognition and hopefully I can go there full of confidence and try to help the team and help us get three points in the qualifiers.”