WILLO Flood is convinced David Goodwillie will successfully relaunch his career at Pittodrie, starting with helping Aberdeen to European success against FC Groningen tonight.
The striker is in line for a Dons debut in the Europa League second round qualifying tie after his contract with Blackburn Rovers was terminated by mutual agreement earlier this summer. That brought to an end a frustrating three years at Ewood Park for someone who made more headlines off the pitch than on it following a lucrative transfer from Dundee United.
However, Flood has sympathy for someone he knows has the talent to make a major positive impact in the game after their time at Tannadice together.
The Aberdeen midfielder speaks from experience as his own transfer to Celtic turned sour and an injury-disrupted spell at Middlesborough wasn’t much better. But Flood has been playing better than ever since returning to Scotland, first at Tannadice and now Pittodrie, and is certain Goodwillie is in the mood to do likewise.
Flood said: “There’s no doubt that a confident David Goodwillie will bring a lot to this team. Even in training he looks hungry and sharp.
“He has a point to prove and that spells danger for any side coming up against him. People thought I was going to go to Celtic and play, and I didn’t so I know how he will be feeling.
“He has come here showing a lot of drive and he is here to prove people wrong. It didn’t work out for him at Dundee United second time around but that’s because of Nadir Ciftci doing so well.
“The team went on a good run when he was out of the team and that made it difficult for Jackie McNamara to bring him back in. But he’s a lad I’ve always rated highly as he had a good attitude and good attributes when I worked with him at United.
“The only thing players lose in football is confidence and if a player gets it back he can get back to where he was or make himself even better. The only way to get confidence back is to keep working hard and believe in yourself and he’ll get that chance here.”
Groningen will be without central defender Martijn van der Laan who has a groin strain and didn’t travel. Jarchinio Antonia is in the squad but the winger faces a late fitness test.
“By contrast, Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has Goodwillie available for the first time and is hoping Peter Pawlett will be fit to start after missing last week’s trip to Riga with an ankle injury.
McInnes knows this round is a big step in class of opposition compared with their first-round tie against FK Daugava but hopes to give a near capacity all-ticket Pittodrie crowd another European night to remember.
“A lot of the club’s best nights have been when they have been involved in European football and the fans will again respond to that,” he said. “Hopefully, we can give them another good experience and get into the next round. We certainly won’t stand back and watch Groningen play. We must make sure we get after them and be good enough on the ball to cause them problems.”