“The door is still open for everyone.”
Those seven words from Aberdeen first team coach Allan Russell were aimed not just at the players who are out of contract at the end of the season, but also at the four players who have spent the second half of the campaign on loan at the club.
Gary Woods is the only one of the quartet at Pittodrie who will be a free agent in the summer and manager Stephen Glass has wasted little time in making his mind up on the goalkeeper with Woods signing a pre-contract agreement to make his move to Aberdeen permanent in the summer.
Woods was perhaps the easiest decision to make when it comes to the four loan players at the club and his two-year deal represents a good piece of business for both parties.
The former Ross County goalkeeper was persona non grata at the Latics after his club released a statement in September stating both the goalkeeper and team-mate David Wheater were no longer part of the first team squad, but it turned ugly, quickly.
The club statement continued: “Due to matters that neither party is in a position to disclose, the decision has been made to ensure the football club can now focus on the season ahead.”
Woods and Wheater are represented by the same sports agency and they were quick to respond on their clients’ behalf with a strong statement of their own.
It read: “When players sign a contract they are fully committed to honouring that contract with the club and be professional 100 per cent of the time and train and play to the best of their abilities.
“In return they expect the management of the club to also honour the contract, be paid on time and to act with a high standard of professionalism.
“Unfortunately we believe that Oldham’s management, in releasing the club statement, is designed to put unfair, undue pressure on two experienced professional players to break a contract which was signed in good faith.”
Former Dons boss Derek McInnes offered Woods a lifeline when he brought him to Aberdeen on loan in October and the deal was extended in January when Tomas Cerny, the number two at the club, was forced to retire due to injury.
Wheater was not so lucky, having to wait until March before agreeing a termination of his deal with the club.
But, having stepped into the breach following a rib injury to Dons captain Joe Lewis recently, Woods has taken his chance to show what he can do with some accomplished displays as of late.
Undoubtedly he has taken his chance and has earned a permanent deal after showing he can be a safe pair of hands when called upon.
Callum Hendry has also worked hard to make a positive impression and he has been the most productive of the three loan forwards who arrived on deadline day in February.
The son of former Scotland captain Colin, Hendry fell out of the first team picture at St Johnstone in late September and arrived at Pittodrie in February with two goals to his name for Saints this season, the last of which came in a 2-1 win against Motherwell in the Betfred Cup in November.
The 23-year-old has had to fight for his place at Pittodrie too, but of the three loan players he leads the way with three goals since his arrival from McDiarmid Park.
With 12 months remaining on his deal with the Perth club, it is unclear whether he will have a future with the League Cup finalists, but whatever happens he can be pleased with his efforts from his time in the Granite City.
Elsewhere, there is no doubting Florian Kamberi’s ability. He was involved in both goals in last week’s 2-1 win at Livingston, but remains something of an enigmatic figure and he does appear to lack the consistency to go with his talent.
His goal against Livingston in the Scottish Cup win last month is his only one since moving to Pittodrie on February 1 and, with two years remaining on his contract with St Gallen, Dons boss Glass will have to decide whether he has done enough to earn an extended stay.
With Aberdeen in need of a regular goalscorer to follow in the footsteps of Sam Cosgrove and Adam Rooney, he needs to be certain Kamberi fits the bill.
Finally, there is Fraser Hornby.
Injuries have prevented from showing what he is capable of during his loan from Stade de Reims.
Viewed as a long-term project by his club in France, the Scotland under-21 international is under contract with his club until the summer of 2024 after they paid Everton £1.8 million for his services last summer.
He has yet to get off the mark at Pittodrie and seems likely to return to France in the summer.
Stephen Glass did not bring any of the quartet to Pittodrie, but he will have the final say on whether any of them can be part of his future plans.