ABERDEEN midfielder Peter Pawlett insists the Dons are not feeling the pace of the Scottish Premiership title race.
The Pittodrie side’s faint hopes of pushing Celtic all the way to the line appear to be over after they were held at home to a goalless draw with Partick on Saturday.
The stalemate means Celtic have sprinted further ahead and now hold a seven-point lead at the table summit as well as a game in hand.
Dons boss Derek McInnes admitted his side were “lucky” to escape Saturday’s Jags clash with a point after a disappointing display.
But Pawlett insists it was just a bad day at the office and not a sign of tiredness creeping into Aberdeen legs.
The 24-year-old - who hopes to bounce back when his side host Inverness on Wednesday - told RedTV: “As players we were disappointed coming off the pitch. We did not perform to the levels that we can. It was disappointing but at least we have a game straight away to put things right. We have a chance to bounce back which is the main thing.
“I wish I could put my finger on what went wrong on Saturday. It is just one of those things, it did not click for us. Sometimes that happens in football. You have got to learn from it, accept it and move on. It is close to the end of the season but we want to finish as strongly as possible.
“The way we all feel now and how much confidence we have in each other we expect to win more often than not. We have been very consistent in the league this season and want to finish as high as possible. In our last 20 games we have won 14 and drawn four.
“The manager is striving for improvement each season and that is what we are looking to achieve. It looks like we will beat our points tally in the league last season.
“I don’t think the long season is a reason for the poor performance on Saturday. They are mostly young lads in the changing room and as a player you want to play.
“We also get our rest and recovery and the manager has monitored the situation very closely and tailored the training accordingly. The boys are feeling as fresh as we can do at this stage of the campaign and we are all looking forward to the run in.”
Pawlett was just 18 when he made his Dons debut so he knows what it is like to deal with the expectations of the demanding Pittodrie crowd.
And he has backed Lawrence Shankland to become the next talented teen to make his mark after watching the 19-year-old make his first Reds start against Thistle.
He said: “I was pleased to see Lawrence making his first start. Every time he goes on the pitch he scores. Every time he kicks the ball in training he scores. He is an absolute goal scorer.
“If the ball comes to him he just hits it and it goes in. Adam Rooney is the same. Good strikers are goal scorers and that is what you need in the team. Lawrence is also strong, he has a good touch and he is clever. He brings other players in play.”
Caley Thistle can close to within five points of Aberdeen with a victory in the Granite City and Pawlett is wary.
“Inverness have consistently done well for quite a few years now,” he said. “They deserve a lot of credit.
“Terry Butcher left but John Hughes has come in and kept the momentum going. They have some very good players up there.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS