Graeme Shinnie tips Ryan Christie for big Celtic future
Of course the versatile Dons player, who earlier this week extended his own contract until the summer of 2019, is perfectly placed to judge the potential of someone he has seen progress from callow youth to accomplished performer.
The pair both graduated from the Inverness Caley Thistle youth scheme and played more than 60 times together for the senior side during the Highlanders’ most successful era since formation back in 1994.
The first occasion was when Christie made his top-team debut, appropriately against Celtic back in December 2013, and the last came when John Hughes’ side won the 2015 Scottish Cup final against Falkirk having beaten the Hoops in the previous round.
Christie’s chances of another winner’s medal in the competition this season depend on Aberdeen avoiding his parent club in subsequent rounds but he will team up again with Shinnie tonight when Dundee visit on league business.
What he can definitely do is help the Dons deny Rangers second place in the Premiership table and Shinnie believes that in turn will aid Christie’s chances of making a major impact at Parkhead next season.
“He has all the attributes to become a Celtic regular but I guess he just needs that extra experience, although he had a bit of that at Inverness,” said his former Caley Thistle team-mate.
“Ryan just needs to keep building on that and get as many appearances as he can and I’m sure one day he’ll get into that Celtic team.
“I watched him come through at Inverness as a young boy and he’s a very good player who loves the ball and can change games.
“His confidence on the ball even when he was just coming into the Caley Thistle first team was good to see.
“He obviously see this as a step in his career where he can improve himself and it’s great to have him here.
“Like every young boy coming in, he plays without fear and will be a really good addition to our squad.”
Shinnie has certainly proved to be a valuable addition to the Aberdeen squad since Derek McInnes signed the player under freedom of contract in the summer of 2015 despite competition from several English clubs.
He joins goalkeeper Joe Lewis as the only ever-presents in the Dons starting line-upsthis seasonand Shinnie admits he is in no hurry to move elsewhere.
He added: “If the chance comes to go to England at some point I’d have to have a think about it but my sole focus since I left Inverness to join Aberdeen has been to do well for this club.
“That’s what I’ll continue to concentrate on now that my contract has been extended for the next two years as you can always get better. I’m still relatively young at 25 but I’m still learning and I’m looking forward to the business end of the season.
“One of the highlights of my career was lifting the Scottish Cup with Inverness as the captain. There was no better feeling and I’d want to do that again.
“There’s definitely a chance to do that at Aberdeen with the squad we’ve got.To win the cup again is definitely up there as an aspiration. We’ve got the players to do it.”
Aberdeen travel to Dingwall in the next round of that competition after thrashing Stranraer last weekend but first their manager is wary of any backlash from the only real shock in the fourth round.
Dundee were beaten at home by a St Mirren side currently bottom of the Championship but McInnes warned: “Whether Dundee won or lost last weekend we still expected a tough game this week.
“It was a surprising result because Paul has them sitting in the middle of the table but I think you have to question whether the winter break played a part in it?
“I was surprised that they went out but it doesn’t change our thinking because although we have a good record against them the games have always been very competitive.
“Paul has done a very good job at Dundee and we have always had to fight for everything we’ve had. That will be no different this time.”
Aberdeen will start as massive favourites, though, after a run of four straight wins and McInnes has a full-strength squad to choose from and the motivation of victory taking them back above Rangers into second place.