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P&J: Dons set sights on Hearts and third spot


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Calderwood wants his Reds to crank up the pressure

Dons set sights on Hearts and third spot

By Paul Smith

 

Published: 04/12/2008

 

Aberdeen have been challenged to send out a message to European rivals Hearts as the Dons bid to overhaul the Tynecastle side by the turn of the year.

 

The third-placed Jambos will travel to Pittodrie on December 27 and the stakes will be high.

 

Aberdeen face Kilmarnock this weekend at Rugby Park before tackling Falkirk and Caley Thistle in the build-up to the Hearts fixture.

 

Dons manager Jimmy Calderwood wants to use those matches to crank up the pressure on the Edinburgh side in time for the festive tussle.

 

He said: “We are getting results now and have to keep the pressure on those above us. We know how hard it will be to win the next three games but the onus is on us to make it interesting when Hearts come here at the end of the month by getting closer to them.â€

 

The Jambos have an eight-point advantage on the fifth-placed Dons but must face leaders Celtic and third-placed Dundee United before heading to Aberdeen.

 

Calderwood is confident about his side’s chances of emerging from Kilmarnock on Saturday with full points and believes a positive result can strike fear into the opponents lined up for the Christmas period.

 

He said: “Now the home form has improved it is important we maintain the good performances on the road as well. That all builds confidence to take into the next home match against Falkirk and then the one against Hearts. Teams have always been wary of coming to Pittodrie.â€

 

Calderwood travelled to Glasgow yesterday after being invited to join an SPL think-tank featuring Walter Smith, Gordon Strachan, Craig Levein, John Hughes and Mark McGhee as well as the league’s executive chairman Lex Gold, secretary Iain Blair and SFA vice-president Campbell Ogilvie.

 

While Calderwood and his colleagues in the select group discussed issues including the rule dictating the inclusion of three under-21 players in each SPL squad and the structure of the reserve and under-19 leagues, his assistant, Jimmy Nicholl, is in England scouting.

 

The Dons return to training today and hope to receive an update on Tommy Wright’s progress following an Achilles tendon injury.

 

Calderwood said: “Tommy will, hopefully, get the cast off this week. Jamie Smith is back training with a smile on his face and Stuart Duff is doing really well after his knee operation.â€

 

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