Shin­nie seek­ing fast start

No time like the present as Dons cap­tain eyes early edge

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - SPORT - BY ANDY SKIN­NER

Aberdeen cap­tain Graeme Shin­nie is de­ter­mined to lay down an early marker in the race for a fifth suc­ces­sive Pre­mier­ship run­ners-up fin­ish when Rangers visit Pit­to­drie on Sun­day.

The Dons play host to the Gers this week­end in new man­ager Steven Ger­rard’s first do­mes­tic fix­ture since tak­ing charge of the Ibrox club ear­lier this sum­mer.

Both teams are in Europa League ac­tion just three days be­fore­hand, with Aberdeen look­ing to de­feat English Pre­mier League side Burnley, and Rangers aim­ing to main­tain a 1-0 first leg lead over Croa­t­ian out­fit Osi­jek.

De­spite the Light Blues win­ning three and draw­ing one of the matches against the Dons last sea­son, it was Derek McInnes’ men who came out on top in the bat­tle for sec­ond place, which they clinched cour­tesy of a fi­nal-day 1-0 vic­tory over cham­pi­ons Celtic at Park­head.

With an early head-to­head en­counter this term, mid­fielder Shin­nie hopes to get an early ad­van­tage in Sun­day’s league opener but ex­pects stiffer com­pe­ti­tion for the run­ners-up po­si­tion this time around.

Shin­nie said: “I think we prob­a­bly would have been say­ing the same last year, when Hibs were back in the league along with Rangers and Hearts.

“We fin­ished sec­ond last year, so again it’s where peo­ple want to be.

“Rangers have prob­a­bly got am­bi­tions to try to chal­lenge for the ti­tle, and that’s un­der­stand­able, but we are go­ing to fight as much as we can to stay as close to the top as we can and try to fin­ish sec­ond again.

“Ev­ery game you play, you want to put the marker down.

“Last year we didn’t have a great record against the Old Firm which was dis­ap­point­ing, so we want to change that and we want to show we are up for the fight again.”

Shin­nie be­lieves the Reds can set the tone for the forth­com­ing sea­son with a strong start to the league cam­paign, with the Rangers fix­ture fol­lowed by a trips to Dundee and Hiber­nian.

Shin­nie, who turns 27 on Satur­day, is de­ter­mined to en­sure his side avoids play­ing catch up, adding: “It’s early doors in the sea­son, but you want to get off to the best pos­si­ble start.

“To get points on the board as quickly as you can lead­ing up to Christ­mas time, it’s all about win­ning and try­ing to put points on the board.

“Af­ter that, it’s the busi­ness end of the sea­son and you can see where you are. It’s im­por­tant to try to play well and get the points early doors, and set our­selves up for the sea­son.”

The Dons have been drawn at home to Pre­mier­ship new­com­ers St Mir­ren in the sec­ond

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