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Aberdeen the perfect fit for second-place finish this season

The gap which exists between Aberdeen and Motherwell in the SPFL Premiership table is sufficient only to fit a piece of cigarette paper.

The Pittodrie side will hope to fashion greater breathing space in the pursuit of second place tonight, when they travel to Edinburgh for a match with Hibernian.

Motherwell's contentious defeat by St Mirren on Saturday might have been considered as a leg up by Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, but he will ensure his players know there is no longer any margin for error if a second-place finish is to be achieved this season.

Barry Robson, whose powerful performances in midfield have been important in Aberdeen's rise to prominence, was aware of that already and he still regards the games drawn against Hearts, Ross County and Dundee United of late as missed opportunities. However, he did his best to rationalise the loss of points by pointing to how United had hung on in the end, County are fighting for survival in the Premiership and Hearts scored a late penalty to secure a draw.

Robson believes, though, that the fitness within the Pittodrie ranks will be vital to the final-furlong push. "We have a lot of legs out there," said Robson. "We're fit and that makes me feel comfortable going into the split knowing we can go right to the end of the season.

"The battle for runners-up might go right to the last game against Motherwell, but if we can win some games before that, it might not. Motherwell are not going to go away. So it might go to the wire, but we're 100% prepared for that. We're as fit a side as any in the league."

The former Celtic and Middlesbrough player is so content with life back in his native north-east that he is eager to sign a new contract in the summer and that money would not enter his thinking.

"Hopefully, we can sort something out," said the 35-year-old. "I'd love to stay and I'm sure the manager would like me to stay. It's not going to be hard to sort out. The manager will tell me what I'm getting and I'll sign it. I don't have an agent. It's not about money; I want to play at this club which is the most important thing for me."

Robson is able to consider the future in comfort. It is a feeling which those at Hibs hope to emulate but from which the Edinburgh side are still far removed - recent torrid form having left them in seventh place and just four points above the relegation play-off place.

Players such as Lewis Stevenson have only been able to watch the revival at Pittodrie from a distance, with the Hibs midfielder desperate for Terry Butcher to enact a similar turnaround in Leith. The Englishman was appointed as Hibs manager in November but has been unable to rescue the club from decline. A win tonight might just serve as a tonic, though.

"We would like to go on and do what [Aberdeen] have done. That would be ideal," said Stevenson. "Aberdeen have been the benchmark for most clubs this year. We have played them twice and been beaten twice and to be fair on both occasions it was pretty comfortable for them.

"Apart from Celtic they've have probably been the best team I have faced this season. So we have to look at Aberdeen. We don't just want to stay up, we want to finish the best we can. We can do all the talking, we can say as much as we can. But we have to be the best we can to pick up points."

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