Scott Vernon finds himself in territory that is, while not unfamiliar, is not comfortable.

Will he stay or will he go?

Dragging the answer to that question out of Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, as he ponders whether to retain the services of his under-used striker, would test the best of torturers.

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The player appears none the wiser over an issue that will be tormenting many players as contracts are counted down and exit doors beckon.

Yet, Vernon being the professional that he is, accepted his role as stand-in for the injured Adam Rooney against Dundee United at Tannadice on Tuesday night and fashioned three sublime goals to give his side victory and the retention of second place in the SPFL Premiership ahead of Sunday's finish against their closest rivals Motherwell.

"I got into the game and found my feet right away," he said of the Tannadice win. "Goals help and give you confidence as does getting involved in the game. We said before this little spell of games that we wanted to decide our own fate rather than relying on other teams to give us second spot. We are halfway there and we will be going for another win on Sunday."

It was Vernon's second hat trick of the season - his other was in a in a cup-tie against Falkirk - and cam in only his first start since January 18.

"I am part of the team and I love playing for the club," he said. "Obviously, I want to play more and I have wanted to play more this season, but there is no point in sulking about it. I want to be as professional as I can. I have my down moments when I haven't been playing but I have kept myself fit, so when I have been needed I have been able to produce."

So, does he think his hat trick will persuade McInnes to keep him at Pittodrie, where he alighted four years ago when Colchester United deemed him surplus to requirements?

"I really don't know," said Vernon. "You will need to ask him that. I can only go out and do what I can do. I can only try my best and then we will see what happens. The gaffer keeps his cards close to his chest.

"He has a job to do and has to make a decision on our out-of- contract players. That is part and parcel of football. I will take it in my stride and whatever will be will be.

"We had a conversation a month or so ago. What was said will remain private but nothing has been clarified."