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The Premiership will be tougher next season but so will Aberdeen, insists boss Stephen Glass – Evening Express

Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass expects next season’s Premiership to be the most competitive in years – but is confident his rebuilt squad will be up to the challenge.

Glass aims to build a squad that will be in the mix fighting for honours with the teams he believes will strengthen in the summer – Rangers, Celtic, Hibs and Hearts.

The Dons boss will undertake a summer squad overhaul to construct a squad capable of delivering that success next season.

He has already secured Motherwell’s Scotland international Declan Gallagher, Celtic captain Scott Brown and keeper Gary Woods.

Aberdeen are also tracking St Mirren attacking midfielder Jamie McGrath as they seek to bolster their squad for the 2021-22 campaign.

More signings are imminent as Glass aims to have his signings on board for the start of pre-season.

He said: “It is going to be competitive next season, probably the strongest the Premiership has been in years.

“Rangers are stronger than they have been for a while, Celtic are going to improve again.

“Hibs are up there and Hearts are back in the league.

“It is important that we are ready to compete and that everyone can play their part in that.”

Aberdeen signing Declan Gallagher in action for Scotland during the Euro 2020 play-off match against Israel on October 8 2020.

Glass and assistant Allan Russell have been undertaking an ongoing assessment of the current squad with a view to who can have a role in the team next season.

There are currently eight players set to go out of contract – Tommie Hoban, Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor, Greg Leigh, Mikey Devlin, Ethan Rosss, Shay Logan and Bruce Anderson, who is on loan at Hamilton.

It is understood Glass is keen to retain Anderson.

Strikers Callum Hendry (St Johnstone), Florian Kamberi (St Gallen) and Fraser Hornby (Stade de Reims) also have short term loan deals set to expire at the end of the campaign.

Assistant Russell recently confirmed the door has not shut on any player with regards to plans for next season – including the loan strikers.

As the assessment continues Glass has also kept Aberdeen in the fight to finish third in the Premiership.

Aberdeen’s 2-1 defeat of Livingston slashed the gap on third placed Hibs to three points with two games remaining in the season.

The Dons face the Edinburgh side at Pittodrie on Wednesday.

The clubs that finish third and fourth will both qualify for the newly formed Uefa Conference League at the second qualifying round next season.

However third does offer an extra £250,000 extra in SPFL prize payments than a fourth placed finish.

Winning the battle to finish third would also ensure the Dons go into the summer, and a squad rebuild, with positive momentum ahead of the new campaign.

Aberdeen’s Callum Hendry scores to make it 1-0 against Livingston.

Glass said: “I am delighted with the energy and effort we are getting from the players.

“We are looking forward to a huge game against Hibs and next season after that.

“In the mean time we prepare for Hibs and see where we go from there.”

When Glass and Russell were confirmed as the new management team on March 23 the bid to finish third looked all but over.

However the Dons have taken seven points from the last possible nine whilst Hibs have taken just three points from nine.

Aberdeen’s bid to finish third also received a timely boost with the earlier than anticipated return of Welsh international attacker Ryan Hedges from injury.

Ryan Hedges scored Aberdeen’s second goal at Livingston as Euro qualification is confirmed.

Having suffered a pectoral muscle injury in a 2-0 defeat to Livingston on February 2 the initial prognosis was that Hedges, who required surgery, would be out for the season.

However he returned earlier than scheduled when introduced off the bench against Livingston.

It took Hedges just four minutes to mark his return with a goal in the 2-1 victory.

Glass said: “We came in and found ourselves a little bit behind.

“But we know what it means if we beat Hibs.

“We will try to make sure it is alive in the last game of the season and that means a result against Hibs.

“Hibs are a tough opponent, a great team and a great club but we will be desperate for the three points and set up that final game.

“The aim is to win and keep it alive going into the last game of the season against Rangers.”

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