Willie Miller makes third place prediction as Aberdeen chase down Hearts and Hibs
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The Pittodrie legend has seen positive signs in the recent revival under interim boss Barry Robson. The Dons are back in the top six and only seven points behind the Jambos, who lost 3-1 away to Celtic on Wednesday, and two points behind fourth-placed Hibs.
Aberdeen and Hearts meet on Premiership duty a week on Saturday at Pittodrie, where a home win would reduce the gap between them to four points. The Dons have plenty of time to prepare after being knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Darvel, which means they have a free weekend coming up. Hearts take on Celtic at Tynecastle in the quarter-final. Miller believes Aberdeen should be setting their sights on third and can “lay a major marker” by beating Robbie Neilson’s team in the Granite City.
He told the Evening Express: “Under the guidance of interim boss Barry Robson, the Reds have jumped up to fifth in the table to keep alive hopes of European qualification. However, they should aim high and try to overtake Hearts to finish third. Hearts are currently seven points ahead of the Dons and hold a game in hand. But there are enough games left to overtake them.
“The Reds’ next game is at home to the Tynecastle club on Saturday, March 18. That match offers a huge opportunity for Aberdeen to make a statement they can overhaul Hearts. There is no better platform for the Dons to lay a major marker than beating the club currently holding third spot.”
He added: “Aberdeen have been right not to rush into making a managerial appointment. But now it is time to whittle down that shortlist to one candidate. And whoever they appoint can spearhead the bid to chase down Hearts.”
Aberdeen midfielder Ylber Ramadani is another who believes that European qualification is still on the cards for the Dons this season. “When I came here, the club said that every season, they want to qualify for Europe and I want this too,” he said. “I hope we can compete for this right to the end.”
Hearts lost 2-0 at Pittodrie on their previous visit in October, but thrashed the Dons 5-0 at Tynecastle in January.