Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie says beating Celtic key for next season

Graeme Shinnie will view it as an achievement if Aberdeen see off the challenge of Rangers for runners-up'¨spot but finishing as Celtic's closest challengers will only take on added significance if they do it with a positive result against the champions in the lunchtime season finale.

Captain Graeme Shinnie has been so important for Aberdeen this season that they've lost the four games he sat out through suspension. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Derek McInnes’ side have been in such impressive form at times that they have lost just once in the league to a bottom six club this season, but it’s been a different story when it comes to facing the Old Firm, as Tuesday’s draw with Rangers was the only point gathered from seven matches so far.

Now the aim for a team who have lost all nine previous meetings since Brendan Rodgers took over is to become the first to defeat Celtic in the Premiership at Parkhead since Motherwell beat Ronny Deila’s side there in December 2015.

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Of course a Hibernian victory at Easter Road means the Dons could afford to lose and still finish second but their captain believes earning their own reward will be beneficial for next season as well as the current one.

“It would be important for second place but also for us to take something off Celtic looking ahead as we haven’t done so far this season,” claimed Shinnie. “As a squad and a club we want to win this game and that is why everybody is still so excited about it.

“It was good to finally take something off Rangers but it was still a frustrating night to be fair. We fell away a wee bit in the second half.

“I don’t know if it was tiredness but Rangers came back into it and we were frustrated with the goal we lost and not taking the three points. It was still a draw and it could be an important point, we have already seen that with what happened on Wednesday night. Now we want to take points off Celtic as well, not that it will be easy.

“Their manager probably will have an eye on next week’s Scottish Cup final but they have the squad to maybe leave a few out and still have the strength to go into the game strong. We need to go in fighting and to take something.”

Not that Shinnie is hoping today’s game will be his last of the season as the midfielder is hoping to be on the plane to South America as a member of the Scotland squad for the matches against Peru and Mexico.

His importance to Aberdeen is best reflected in the fact that they lost all four matches for which he was suspended this season, including last month’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell.

The only surprise to many is that he has been ignored on the international scene so far but former Aberdeen captain Alex McLeish is expected to name the current one for these friendlies and he would be delighted, even if meant having to alter his stag party plans

“I will sit back and wait to see if I am in the squad but I have my stag do coming up,” added Shinnie. “The boys will either be going to Marbella or Peru now.

“There’s about ten of us. Ryan Christie will be getting his paid for if it is Peru as I’m guessing he will be in the squad.

“Scott Wright would also have been going as well but he has the Toulon tournament.

“I am hoping it will be Peru because it is an ambition of mine to get that first cap. I am desperate for it.”