Versatile Bristol City loanee Zak Vyner has seen first hand the building blocks of playing central midfield while at Aberdeen.
Englishman Vyner, 22, who was signed to play primarily in defence, was once again utilised in the middle of the park as the Dons drew 2-2 with Rangers at Pittodrie.
Injuries to fellow summer arrivals Funso Ojo and Craig Bryson mean Vyner and other new boy Greg Leigh – acquired to play left-back – have been pitched in at the deep end this term.
It’s been a learning curve for Vyner, with highs – Wednesday night and before it the 3-0 win at Motherwell, in which he scored – and lows like the 4-0 home hammering by Celtic.
For the whole 90 minutes against the Hoops and for half an hour against Rangers before Aberdeen battled back from 2-0 down, Vyner got to see experienced international midfielders like Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic, Steven Davis and ex-Dons skipper Ryan Jack in full flow.
What has Vyner taken from them which he wants to add to his own midfield game?
He said: “I think it’s their thought process. They’re always thinking a step ahead.
“It’s their movement and they’re on a string with each other. If one moves the other one will move.
“That’s the thing that if you’re not a natural midfielder you’ve got to pick up on really quickly.
“When they’re internationals, ex-internationals or players who’ve been doing it their whole career, for me to go in there and try to pick that up straight away is going to be difficult.
“They’re so sharp in their minds.
“If I’m going to take that role for the season, then I need to pick up on it and go with that.
“I’ve played five times at centre-mid in my whole career and it’s that adaptation period I’m in now.
“I just need to take any information I can from the lads who are at Aberdeen. It’s a great experience here and I just need to take it all in.”
With Derek McInnes’ team visiting Easter Road to take on Hibs in the Premiership today, Vyner – at Pittodrie for the season – could once more be called upon in the middle.
He says everyone in the Reds camp got a lift from the nature of Wednesday’s fightback, via goals either side of the break from Jon Gallagher and Andy Considine.
Vyner – who has only recently returned from a shoulder problem – added: “Morale’s been high and we’re on a good run of form in the last few games.
“The comeback tops it off.
“We’re away today and we have to get three points to build on Wednesday’s draw.
“It was massive, with the character we showed to get back in the game. The lads were excellent.
“The Celtic game slipped out of our hands, but this time getting that goal before half-time boosted us a little bit and made us think ‘we can come back here’, and grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
“We took it to them a bit more than we did against Celtic and at Ibrox (5-0 loss where Vyner played at the back).
“There wasn’t a change in mindset necessarily. We went in both games thinking we wanted to give it to them, but we actually managed to implement it on the night.”
He added: “The first 20 or 30 minutes we were really frantic and couldn’t get a foot on the ball.
“They were pressing high and we got sucked into playing the long ball.
“Me personally, I was disappointed in my own possession.
“I know I’m better than that and their second goal came from me giving the ball away in midfield.
“I think it was just an eagerness to get a goal and frantically like ‘go, go, go’.
“If we’d just taken a step back in and out of possession, gone and pressed them, we would’ve got a bit more success in the first half.”
Vyner thanked the Red Army for spurring on the re-energised Aberdeen to a point having suffered the blow of early goals from Scott Arfield and Jack.
He said: “Naturally when you go 2-0 down at home it’s not going to be great.
“But as soon as we got the first goal back it was absolutely bouncing and we could feed off that.
“We feel it when the atmosphere’s tense in the stadium or when it’s bouncing.
“When we got the second goal it was crazy.”