Dons ace Jonny Hayes has set his sights on trying to catch second-placed Celtic.
The Irishman and his Aberdeen team-mates face Ross County at Victoria Park this afternoon, sitting five points behind the Hoops in the Premiership table, having played a game more.
With the quality the Reds have at their disposal, Hayes believes they can put pressure on the side he left last summer before returning to Pittodrie.
When asked about the prospects of trying to chase down Celtic, the 33-year-old said: “Why not?
“I don’t want to be one of these players who trips themselves up by saying they are going to do this or that, but we’re sitting third and why wouldn’t you want to aim for second.
“I’m a realist first and foremost and I’d say first is not a realistic possibility, but there is no reason why you can’t look ahead.
“You always look at who is ahead of you and the best example of that is probably Livingston.
“They have climbed up the table and if you are not looking ahead then what’s the point?
“There is certainly no resting on our laurels here. For us, as an ambitious team, we want to kick on and we go into every game believing we are capable of winning it.
“We’ve got a good squad here, there’s no doubt about it. For various reasons, we haven’t had a full squad for many games, but as a player I just focus on the next game.
“My job is not to worry about who is coming in our going out. But the players who do play here have to have the ambition to win every game.”
Hayes sees positives – but room for improvement
When assessing the season to date, Hayes believes Aberdeen have done well, but says there is still room for improvement, with the League Cup loss to St Mirren in November a major low point.
The winger, who can also play at full-back, added: “It’s been good. When you look at our league position and stats it has been a good season so far, but we can’t hide from the disappointment of going out of the cup.
“As a whole there is still room for improvement. We’ve got a lot of games to play and another cup competition and as a club and a team we’re ambitious to be the best we can.”
Pittodrie return an easy decision
Hayes returned for a second spell with the Dons last summer following three years with Celtic.
With the Covid-19 pandemic impacting on Aberdeen’s finances, Hayes agreed to defer his wages for a year to make his return possible.
That didn’t bother the former Inverness Caley Thistle player, who was keen to ensure he was able to play for a club he knows well and work under boss Derek McInnes again.
“I always kept a close relationship with the gaffer and coming back had been mentioned a few times,” said Hayes, who first played for Aberdeen between 2012 and 2017.
“It popped up in the window about eighteen months before it happened.
“The manager’s influence was a big factor, he sold me on the training ground and I know how ambitious he is.
“So coming back was an easy decision, because it wasn’t going to England and being away from family all the time on the road.
“That was the big thing for me – we don’t have to readjust coming back to Aberdeen.
“That was a big thing for my wife and kids. We have plenty of friends and family up here.
“Knowing we could come back here and settle straight away was a big factor.
“The financial side of it didn’t really bother me. There is a sense of security here because the club looks after its players and staff.
“I just wanted to come back to Aberdeen, so when I spoke to the gaffer and chairman all three of us were keen and came to an agreement quickly.
“I just wanted to get started and didn’t want to miss much of pre-season.
“I knew this club would suit me, so just wanted back up the road and to get going.
“Whatever it took to get the deal done, I was willing to do.”