Derek McInnes will step up attempts to sign Motherwell’s out-of-contract striker Curtis Main but any chance of adding his Fir Park team-mate Chris Cadden and Livingston’s Scott Pittman look doomed because of an inability to pay transfer fees.
The Aberdeen manager has already admitted that this summer’s rebuild will be even tougher than when he inherited a bottom-six squad of players from Craig Brown six years ago.
Captain Graeme Shinnie has agreed a three-year deal with Derby County, while Gary Mackay-Steven is also expected to leave under freedom of contract later this month when Greg Stewart, Max Lowe, James Wilson and Dom Ball’s loan deals end.
McInnes has been given limited funds to buy the likes of Kenny McLean, Stevie May and Chris Forrester in the past but that is unlikely to be the case now despite interest in Cadden and Pittman who are still under contract.
“My first port of call will be the out-of-contract list and trying to get players in on frees” said McInnes. “Players who are not out of contract are always more difficult to bring in. I would think that, if a player is under contract elsewhere, then it is highly unlikely they will be coming here but there are good players out there that we can bring to the club.
“We can still offer a lot and there might be other players who are under contract and their situation may allow them to get out for free.
“We have been concentrating heavily on the out-of-contract market.”
Aberdeen face competition from Hearts amongst others for Main’s signature but the immediate task for McInnes is to defeat the Edinburgh club tonight and move back above Kilmarnock into third place.
That guarantees automatic qualification for the Europa League and the Dons manager has no intention of relying on Celtic to complete a triple-treble in the Scottish Cup final against Hearts later this month to sneak them in from fourth position. That’s why he wants his players to approach this game as though the match at Pittodrie had silverware at stake.
McInnes said: “Hearts have a cup final to look forward to but we need to feel it is our cup final tonight.
“I am not even thinking about the outcome of the Scottish Cup final. I am only concentrating on finishing third.
“I don’t see it as a safety net. We can’t control that.
“Kilmarnock have a better goal difference and are in a strong position but we just need to go out and win our two games and then see where it takes us. If we can win three out of the last five post-split fixtures then that wouldn’t have been a bad return. The Old Firm games we have lost and we need to make sure there is no hangover from that and I don’t expect there to be.
“We have a couple of players back at the right time and we are hopeful we can get a couple more back for Hibs next weekend.
“These are key games for us and after the first 36 games it is now down to these two games, finishing strongly and hopefully getting that third spot.”
Andrew Considine returns from suspension while Stephen Gleeson and Connor McLennan are fit to play. Shinnie and Mackay-Steven should be ready in time for the season finale at Easter Road.