Derek McInnes is delighted that strikers Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn have agreed extended contracts but, in the spirit of the season, the Aberdeen manager doesn’t intend his generosity to end there.
He won’t be entirely happy until he has got all of his top players signed on for the project of bringing sustained success at the Pittodrie club.
McInnes has made it a priority to secure the long-term futures of those he views as crucial to building on the delivery of a first major trophy for 19 years last season.
Both Rooney and McGinn still had over a year to go on their current contracts but the recent eradication of £14.49 million worth of debt meant Aberdeen could afford to renegotiate.
Now former Celtic winger McGinn is on board until at least May 2017, with current top scorer Rooney tied up for a year longer than that.
It was a perfect Christmas gift for all concerned but McInnes still wants to dish out more deals to the likes of Jonny Hayes, Andrew Considine and David Goodwillie.
The last two named are out of contract this summer and McInnes said: “What we will do is get down to speaking to some of the other players over the next few weeks.
“What we do have at the minute is a real core of over 20 players who are tied up and committed to us for the next few years.
“It gives us the stability and confidence moving forward as there doesn’t have to be too much chopping and changing as we go along.
“David is doing extremely well for us even if he hasn’t got the goals people will have expected of him.
“He is disappointed in that respect himself but he is certainly working hard enough for the team.
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“We feel his level of performance has been such that we would like him to stay with us and we will speak to him about that in the weeks ahead.”
Rooney admits he was more than happy to sign an extended deal for the club and manager who salvaged a career that was going nowhere in English lower league football.
The striker’s goalscoring exploits with Inverness Caledonian Thistle earned what looked like a dream move to Birmingham City only for that to quickly turn sour, given the turmoil at St Andrews.
Things didn’t get any better for the Irishman during a loan spell with Swindon Town and hit a real low after signing for Oldham Athletic at the start of last season.
Thankfully, McInnes rescued Rooney from the obscurity of League One during last January’s transfer window and that faith has been repaid many times over.
It’s now 26 goals in 42 appearances for Aberdeen in addition to the decisive penalty in the League Cup final shoot-out against Caley Thistle last March. That clinched the Pittodrie club’s first trophy in 19 years with Rooney convinced more are on the way after signing on until May 2018.
It was the second contract extension he has agreed in just 11 months, hardly surprising given this season’s strike rate.
Rooney returns to Inverness on Sunday having hit 17 goals already and admits he is in the form of his life.
He said: “I’m probably playing better than at any other time in my career as I got 27 goals for Inverness one season but that was in the league below.
“In my last year there in the top division I got 22 goals and I’m nearly there already as far as that tally goes.
“I always set myself targets which I don’t really like to make public but I probably didn’t think I would have this many so far.
“I usually aim to have just over double figures by Christmas but obviously I am a bit ahead of that at the minute.
“Now the aim is to hopefully keep that up and keep the goals coming for the club. I think the style of the team suits me as there are a lot of players at Aberdeen capable of creating chances for you. I’m getting great service in and around the six-yard box which is where I like to be getting on the end of things.
“I’ve just come into the club and luckily hit the ground running by getting goals which really boosts your confidence.
“That means I’m feeling great at the minute and enjoying my football so the next target is 20 goals, then 25 and 30 if I get there.
“You can’t help but be happy wtih that but it helps that we have threats from the likes of Niall McGinn, Jonny Hayes and David Goodwillie as well.
“They are quality players as Niall’s in the Northern Ireland team, Jonny has been brilliant this season and Goodie has been in the Scotland side in the past. It makes it a lot easier for me to get on the end of things when you have so many good players around you. That can only help you raise your game and when you consider the likes of Russell Anderson, Willo Flood and Barry Robson have been out injured we have kept doing well.”
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