Derek McInnes appeared recently to end all speculation regarding a return to Rangers by insisting his future remained at Aberdeen, and Joe Lewis is ready to join several of his team-mates in committing to their manager’s long-term project.
Adam Rooney, Andrew Considine, Graeme Shinnie and Jonny Hayes have all extended their contracts with the club and the Dons goalkeeper is ready to do the same, just eight months into a two-year deal.
It’s a mark of the impact made by someone who was once a member of Fabio Capello’s England squad that talks are already underway and there’s no doubt Lewis is keen to comply.
The form of Scotland international David Marshall effectively froze him out at Cardiff City, leading to frustrating loan spells with Blackpool and Fulham, but now he’s back to the level of performance that earned a move to the Welsh club in the first place.
Lewis heads to Hamilton tonight determined to keep his 16th clean sheet of the season to help Aberdeen move 12 points clear of Rangers in second place, then help himself to an extended stay in the Granite City.
“I am enjoying it fantastically here, I have a good relationship with the club and the fans,” he said. “You never know what can happen in the future but I have no desire to look elsewhere. It’s good to know that the club want me to stay, it makes you feel good that the manager obviously thinks you’ve done something right.”
McInnes has had less success so far in persuading Ash Taylor, Peter Pawlett, Niall McGinn and captain Ryan Jack to extend their current contracts beyond the summer but expects movement on that by the middle of next month.
Whatever happens, Lewis has warned Celtic and Rangers that Aberdeen will be an even tougher proposition next season.
He added: “I knew Celtic would be very strong this season and they have been fantastic but this club has been in second place for the last few seasons so the aim was to kick on with that again. We have been improving throughout this season and the hope is to keep that going and build something special. I think we’re doing that, the lads who have signed on again think that as well. So if we can add to the squad in the summer again then we’ll develop further.”
Jayden Stockley misses out tonight with the shoulder injury but the striker is expected to be fit for Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter final tie at home to Partick Thistle.
Aberdeen are odds on favourites to make it 11 wins from their last 12 games as Hamilton have won just three times all season in the Premiership. but one of those was against the Dons, in October.
Accies manager Martin Canning does not read too much into Hamilton’s drop to the bottom of the league but accepts the urgent need for wins and knows they could steal a march on rivals who don’t play until tomorrow.
He said: “We have beaten them this season and that goes to show how tight it is.
“If we win before the other teams play we could be a few places up the league so it is still all to play for definitely. Aberdeen are in a good form. We know it is a difficult task, they have a lot of attacking threat but we have beaten them before and so you have to believe that we can do it again.”