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Clean sheet record down to sparkling team-mates

THE high-flying players at Aberdeen may not quite be cavorting down the corridors of Pittodrie singing their own, out-of-tune version of Ken Dodd's Happiness, but, according to Jamie Langfield, the atmosphere around the club is more positive than it has been for years.

LONGEVITY: Jamie Langfield now holds the record for most clean sheets kept in the Scottish top flight with 98. Picture: SNS
LONGEVITY: Jamie Langfield now holds the record for most clean sheets kept in the Scottish top flight with 98. Picture: SNS

Add to that the goalkeeper's own remarkable achievement of 98 clean sheets in Scotland's top tier, two more than Allan McGregor's previous best tally when he was with Rangers, and it is understandable that he is enjoying life at the moment.

"It's a happy camp at Pittodrie," he said. "I think most people are expecting us to win matches but there are still many who expect us to lose.

"We are looking forward to the game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday and we can only take confidence from the run we have been on. If we can maintain that then it will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season."

A win tomorrow would stretch the gap between the clubs to 13 points, another reason to be cheerful, as Inverness seek their first win under new manager John Hughes.

"The manager [Derek McInnes] has made us stronger in attack and we have boys like Willo Flood and Barry Robson who can play that killer decisive pass," Langfield said.

"We also have players such as Niall McGinn and Peter Pawlett - who is flying right now - that can hurt teams as well. There is a real belief in the team that we are going to get the goals, get that winning goal.

"The manager says it doesn't matter if the goal comes at the start or the end, the most important thing is getting the three points."

The 34-year-old paid tribute to his defensive colleagues who, he insisted, had protected him well this season with just 19 goals conceded in 22 league games. "I may be heading for 100 clean sheets," he said, "but a lot of that is down to the boys in front of me. They have been outstanding, whoever is playing at the back. Jonny Hayes has come in and played at left-back for the last few games and we have kept three clean sheets. It is something that the manager prides himself on and the boys do as well.

"If we can keep the door locked at the back then we have the players to go and hurt other teams. It is satisfying for me, but a lot of the credit has to go to the boys I have played with, past and present, who have got me in that position.

"It is not all down to me. There are 11 of us on the park and I am grateful for everything the players do."

McInnes has, meanwhile, refused to confirm reports that he is trying to sign Adam Rooney, the former Inverness striker, now at Oldham Athletic.Hughes is focusing on the players that remain at his new club. Unfortunately for him, three of those will be absent at Pittodrie today.

"We have been dealt a bad hand when it comes to injuries and suspensions," he admitted. "Three warriors in our team - Ross Draper, Gary Warren and Richie Foran - will be missing. We go to Pittodrie against an Aberdeen team that is wiping the floor with everybody they play.

"If it does not inspire you as a player you should not be getting on the team bus. Can we go there and pick up three points? Definitely, we can. We are going to have to be spirited and concentrated and make sure Aberdeen know they have been in a game. Can we stand up and match Aberdeen?

"It is okay sitting in the dressing room doing team talks, but they need to go out on the stage and produce the goods. It is a big challenge for us, but there can be no trepidation."

Hughes believes his settling-in period as manager is now complete and views the Pittodrie trip as a serious gauge of what he has at his disposal. "I think Aberdeen are big contenders for that second place in the table, although Motherwell will be close," he said. "Both of those teams are streetwise, but so are we - particularly when we have a full quota to pick from. All we need now is a result to give us the belief we can go on and build momentum."

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