New Aberdeen signing Nicky Maynard was today backed by Derek McInnes to smash the 20-goal mark this season.
The Dons gaffer also confirmed the bid to sign Shaun Maloney is still alive and that he remains confident of securing the Scotland cap.
Aberdeen had hoped to secure another signing before the Uefa deadline for registering players for the Europa League closed at 11pm last night.
However no additional signing to Maynard was completed.
The Dons can still register one wild card signing for the Europa League tie up until 11pm on Wednesday. Maynard penned a one-year deal ahead of the Uefa signing deadline to be eligible for the Europa League clash with Bosnia’s NK Siroki Brijeg.
The 30-year-old, who has commanded transfer fees of £6.5 million during his career, signed on at Pittodrie on a free.
Only Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn have hit the 20-goal mark in a season for the Dons this century.
McInnes, who managed Maynard at Bristol City, reckons the former West Ham attacker can join that elite group of Pittodrie goal heroes.
He said: “Nicky is certainly capable of hitting that level of 20 goals. There is no doubt about that.
“We just have to hope he can get a run at it with games and show his qualities. Nicky is someone who I really enjoyed working with at Bristol City and I recognised his quality there. Tony (Docherty, assistant manager) and I feel he is right up there, and is as good a finisher as we have worked with in the past.
“We were disappointed we did not get to work with him longer before the club (Bristol City) sold him to West Ham.
“When I did work with Nicky he was a very important player for us and I want him to be that for us now.”
Aberdeen have also been linked with a potential move for Motherwell striker Louis Moult who still has a year left on his contract. The Reds had a £250,000 bid for Motherwell striker Louis Moult rejected by the Steelmen on Thursday night.
Maynard became Bristol City’s record signing in 2008 when the Ashton Gate club paid £2.25 million to Crewe Alexandra. The striker played under McInnes at Bristol before being sold for £1.5m to West Ham where he helped win the play-off final to earn promotion to the top flight.
He then moved to Cardiff City in a £2.75m deal and won the Championship title. McInnes, who is currently taking the Dons through a training camp at St Andrews, is confident he has landed a prolific scorer.
He said: “Nicky is one who has always been a good finisher and if he finds the right team, and hopefully we are that team, then he will enjoy playing his role.
“That role in terms of what we do against the ball and working hard and being honest with his work, which he is.
“But also being selfish enough as a centre forward to get the type of goals we hope we can get from him. It is always good bringing good finishers who are hungry to score goals, and Nicky is that.”
Aberdeen remain hopeful that a deal to secure Maloney can still be completed. Maloney is a free agent and rejected the offer of a one-year contract extension with Hull City to agree to move to home city side Aberdeen.
However, the move was put on hold when the former Celtic and Aston Villa attacker highlighted an ongoing injury concern. That will be investigated before the Dons complete his signing on a two-year contract.
McInnes said: “Shaun is someone that we are keen to bring in. There is still a willingness from Shaun and ourselves to eventually do a deal and get to work with each other.
“Shaun was really open and honest as he had one or two little concerns when we met which he wanted to get looked at a little bit more in conjunction with ourselves.
“We will continue to work with him on that and see where we go.
“Shaun deserves a lot of credit for being so transparent.
“It wasn’t a hernia he had, he thought it was. But it was more a nerve issue he had and that has been dealt with.
“It is more a general thing than anything specific. We are still hopeful that given a bit of time he can still be a player for us.”
Aberdeen had bids of £250,000 and £300,000 rejected by Preston North End for striker Stevie May. McInnes recently admitted he had a Plan B if the move for the 24-year-old failed to materialise.
He looks set to go down another avenue as new Preston boss Alex Neil has confirmed he is keen to retain May. Neil managed May while he was on loan at Hamilton.
When asked about May, McInnes said: “We have made enquiries and offers for players across the board in the last few weeks and that is on-going. Peoples’ circumstances and clubs’ circumstances change but we are probably looking elsewhere at the minute.”