Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes will make securing two central midfielders his priority during the summer transfer window.
One to bring creativity and the other to bring steel and control to the heart of the side.
Skipper Graeme Shinnie currently brings both those traits but McInnes accepts he must also fill the void created by the exit of Kenny McLean and Ryan Christie.
Both Scotland internationals returned to their parent clubs at the end of the season with McLean beginning his career at Norwich City and Christie going back to Celtic.
McInnes also admitted he could move in the transfer window to bolster a strike force that yielded just 16 goals between them last season.
Adam Rooney, the leading scorer for the last four seasons, hit 11 goals although first-team starts were vastly reduced from previous campaigns.
Fellow centre-forward Stevie May, a £400,000 signing from Preston North End last summer, netted five times.
However, May’s game time was also hampered with a two-month lay-off due to an ankle injury sustained in December.
Summer signing Nicky Maynard left Pittodrie at the end of the season having failed to score a single goal.
McInnes said: “I know what needs to be done this summer.
“I need a couple of central midfielders with Kenny McLean and Ryan Christie going. The middle of the park is an area where we need to strengthen and maybe another striker as well.
“We missed a controlling midfielder this season.
“Ryan Jack did that for me for four seasons and we didn’t really have someone to knit it all together for us.
“At times we are exciting to watch but still too open when the game isn’t going our way.
“That controlling midfielder can be instrumental in that.”
McInnes has already secured a central midfielder in Hamilton Accies teenager Lewis Ferguson who has agreed a pre-contract.
The 18-year-old is one for the future, however, and McInnes wants experienced campaigners who can immediately light up the Aberdeen midfield at both domestic and European level.
Aberdeen are understood to have offered Hibs midfielder Dylan McGeough terms that would make him the highest paid player at Pittodrie.
McGeough is out of contract at Easter Road and has already indicated he will move on.
McInnes has been a long-term admirer of McGeough who is in contention to win his first Scotland cap in the upcoming friendlies against Peru and Mexico.
The Dons boss recently admitted he looked set to lose out in the chase for McGeough to big spending English championship clubs. However, the Dons’ package could yet offer hope of securing the 25-year-old this summer.
There will be stiff competition as Fulham, QPR, Blackburn Rovers and Brentford are all interested in McGeough.
The Dons have also made approaches to Peterborough United for versatile defender-midfielder Jack Baldwin and midfielder Chris Forrester who were both placed on the transfer list by the League One outfit.
Both would require a fee as would Ross County full-back Jason Naismith who the Reds are also tracking and is contracted to the relegated Staggies until summer 2020.
McInnes said: “We have work to do as a lot of players moved on with those out of contract and the loan players going back to their clubs.
“We lost a few key players and it’s important we try to address that side of it. The work is always on-going.”
That on-going work to rebuild for next season began in January with Hamilton centre-back Mikey Devlin and Carlisle striker Sam Cosgrove both signed.
Both were secured as ones for the 2018-19 campaign as Devlin, yet to feature for the Reds, was recovering from a long-term knee injury.
Cosgrove had limited game time for Carlisle but was pitched in from the start in the post-split games and impressed, but has yet to find the back of the net.
McInnes said: “Devlin is one we signed for next season as well as Ferguson and Cosgrove so we’re starting to fill in the blanks.”
The potential hunt to bolster the attack in the summer with another centre-forward comes as former Don Jayden Stockley is set to feature for Exeter in the League One play-off final at Wembley on Monday against Coventry City.
Transferred from Aberdeen to Exeter at the start of the recent season for £100,000, Stockley has netted 25 goals this season.
The rigours and standard of the Scottish Premiership and League Two are obviously different.
However, Stockley has clearly shown he can score south of the border.
In contrast striker Maynard drew a blank up front in an entire season for the Reds.
McInnes admits last summer’s transfer window was not as successful as he had hoped. He is determined it will be different this time.
He said: “There are areas where I feel we could have done so much better, from my point of view as well, and we will look to address that and get the job done.
“However, considering we lost so many players we didn’t want to lose last summer the consistency and effort of the players should be applauded.”