Aberdeen's blend of youth and experience looks promising

 

There have been too many false dawns, or maybe false Dons, to allow the Aberdeen fans to get over-excited about their team at this early stage of the season, but there is certainly more than a hint of North-Eastern promise.

I picked them out before the campaign began to occupy a much higher league position than they did last time around and I've seen nothing in recent weeks to make me change my mind.

A playing squad, which looked impressive before a ball was kicked, now looks even bigger and better.

With resources stretched by injuries to automatic picks like Russell Anderson, Barry Robson, Willo Flood and Niall McGinn, Aberdeen have produced a six-match unbeaten run to be fourth in the Premiership and into the League Cup quarter-finals.

It's the success of young home-produced players that has to be the most satisfying.

Ryan Jack is an adaptable Under-21 international who's already had a call-up to the full Scotland squad and he is central to the plans of manager Derek McInnes.

He currently occupies the holding midfield position which he's playing to perfection but you get the feeling there is a whole lot more to come from him.

Aberdeen's 18-year-old midfielder Cammy Smith scored in the League Cup against Falkirk

Aberdeen's 18-year-old midfielder Cammy Smith scored in the League Cup win against Falkirk

Progression for pacy Peter Pawlett also seems a certainty. He's become too well-known for flying through the air with the greatest of ease and it is time for him to make a greater impression with his feet on the ground.

He carries a serious attacking threat for Aberdeen whether it's in behind the main striker or out wide.

Cammy Smith is a talented teenager who's going to make it more and more difficult for the manager to leave him out of the team.

Left-back Clark Robertson is another local lad who has come good although there is stiff competition for that position. And Irish Under-21 international Joe Shaughnessy, who has also been carefully developed at Pittodrie, is a stick-on at right-back.

I sense a positive relationship already between McInnes and his players. He looks to be finding the right blend as he slots in some of his summer signings alongside those he inherited when he took over from Craig Brown.

Michael Hector is a useful acquisition on loan from Reading, a tall central defender who can play a bit. I've still to be convinced by Calvin Zola but he certainly gives the team physical presence and a big target at central striker.

Scott Vernon has rediscovered his goals touch, Josh Magennis can be anything between deadly and dreadful and surely the best is still to come from winger Jonny Hayes.

It's when you run through all those names and make mention of notable others like Mark Reynolds, Andy Considine, Jamie Langfield and Gregg Wylde and those previously-mentioned players coming back after injury that you realise there's a lot of depth to this squad.

It would be crazy and a trifle premature to be making bold predictions at this early point in the season. But if you're an Aberdeen fan, there are definitely one or two good reasons to be cheerful.