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McInnes offers praise to defender, if not yet a new contract

Russell Anderson is hoping to lead his Aberdeen side to a third victory over Celtic this season, but the defender's attention has also been drawn further into the future as his contract with the Pittodrie club nears its end.

Anderson, in his second spell at the club following an ill-fated period south of the border with Sunderland and Derby County, has performed consistently well at the centre of Aberdeen's defence this season. He will intend to maintain that form at Celtic Park tomorrow.

However, Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, has remained guarded about whether he will offer the club captain a new deal when his current contract expires in the summer.

"I have had a good chat with Russell and we will continue to talk over the rest of the season," said McInnes, whose side are in second place with a four-point advantage over Motherwell. "I will speak to him and see what his thoughts are. Russell can hold his head high the way he has performed this season.

"He has played more than people anticipated and he has been a real solid fixture for us. He is a really dependable guy and epitomises what you want from your senior players."

The 35-year-old defender has also indicated a desire to stay at Pittodrie beyond this season and that a failure to agree a new contract would cause him to retire. Barry Robson, Scott Vernon and Nicky Low are also coming to the end of their contracts and McInnes refused to be drawn on their immediate futures.

Instead, the Aberdeen manager focused on tomorrow's match and the prospect of inflicting a third defeat on Celtic this term. "Any manager going into the away dressing room at Celtic Park will be saying the similar things about showing confidence on the ball and a belief that you can go and win the game," he said. "The fact that we have won there already this season may possibly help us.

"To their credit, Celtic don't look like they have one eye on their holidays. They still have a lot to play for and they showed that with the way they dismantled Inverness last week by scoring six goals and playing a lot good football with a lot of flair and good movement.

"There is a real balance about their team and plenty of goals at the top end of the pitch. There is a lot to like about Celtic at the minute. They are a good side. We will have our work cut out. But we know we have beaten them before and if we play to our level then we believe we can get our result."

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