Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson has Hearts and Hibernian in his sights after doing more than most to finally kick-start his club’s season.
He underlined his credentials as one of the most promising prospects in the Scottish game when he headed the winner against Rangers in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup, played his part in the 3-0 victory at home to Hamilton and then rounded off a productive eight-day spell by scoring with a superb free-kick in the 88th minute to claim all three points at Kilmarnock on Sunday.
The Dons host Neil Lennon’s side on Friday night and can go above them with a fourth consecutive win, and Ferguson claims that they are returning to the form which has seen them finish second to Celtic in each of the four previous campaigns.
“It’s been a massive week for us,” said the 19-year-old. “The semi-final gave us a boost, then the win at Pittodrie against Hamilton gave us more confidence and we needed the three points against Kilmarnock.
“We needed to start climbing the league table because we don’t belong down there. We were eighth before the game at Rugby Park. I don’t know where we are now. Seventh? That’s not much better, but we’re finally putting points on the board and trying to get up to the top end of the table.”
Ferguson is convinced that Aberdeen can maintain their momentum and is already contemplating overhauling league leaders Hearts, who are eight points ahead of them, having played one game more.
“The gaffer [Derek McInnes] told us last week to win all three of them, and take that into the Hibs game,” he said. “They’re a top side and they’re above us in the league, so, if we can get three points against them, it will push us up even further.
“We want to be in the top six going into the international break but our ultimate aim is probably to be in the top three or four. We should be up there challenging. If we just keep picking up points, we will climb that table.
“I think we could claw back Hearts. In the past two games, they’ve dropped points and we’ve picked points up. That’s the only way we can influence it.”
Ferguson also paid tribute to the coaching staff at Pittodrie for helping him hone his technique, claiming that played a part in his decisive strike at Kilmarnock.
“Usually, I fight with Niall McGinn to take the free-kicks,” he said. “I have to give credit to Barry Robson, though. He stays out with me for about half an hour after training and we just practise free-kicks.
“He was a dead-ball specialist himself so he gives me loads of tips. It’s always me or Niall; I don’t think any of the other boys really fancy it. I fancied that one and, thankfully, it went in the back of the net.
“I checked the scoreboard up in the corner just to see how long there was to go. I’m very confident in our back four because we’ve been really strong of late. As soon as the ball hit the back of the net, I was confident we could go on and see it out.
“We just needed a wee bit of luck. Look at Bruce Anderson’s equaliser. I don’t know if it was a shot or a cross from McGinn but, when Bruce gets on the end of it, that’s the break we haven’t had in recent weeks.
“When we played Hearts at Tynecastle, it was a similar performance. We started really slowly, they took two goals from us and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb in the second half. Against Kilmarnock, we at least gave ourselves that chance.
“Do I specialise in big goals? I don’t know. That’s just kind of come about. The bigger the game, the bigger the occasion, the more I enjoy it. It’s a good experience for me because I’m still a young boy.”