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McInnes wary of goal-hungry midfielder

Liam Craig is flavour of the month at Hibernian and Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, is not surprised.

The midfielder was McInnes's first signing when he embarked on his managerial career at St Johnstone five years ago and he is fully aware of the danger he will present when his new club visits Pittodrie tomorrow night in the middle of a renaissance under Terry Butcher.

"I took Liam to St Johnstone from Falkirk," McInnes recalled. "He was fantastic for me; he contributed seven or eight goals every season and has got even more for Hibs already this year. He's into double figures and is having a really good season."

Craig, who has just turned 27, has the added responsibility of being captain, a Butcher appointment and one on which, McInnes believes, he is thriving.

"It takes different types to be a captain," he insisted. "He's a very important player for them and Terry has picked up on that very quickly. He's technically very good, with a great left foot and he's a brilliant team-mate to have in a dressing room. I've always been very fond of him and am glad to see him do well."

Mindful that Motherwell remain a point behind in the league table, McInnes is aware that playing a day earlier gives his players a chance to put daylight between the teams, albeit for a matter of hours. But there is a recognition, too, that Hibernian will provide a sterner challenge than they might have done had the match been played, say, a few months ago.

"Their form hasn't surprised me and that's probably the biggest compliment I can pay Terry," he said. "He's gone in there and brought about consistency of results. He's found a way to win and do it most weeks, that's something Hibs had struggled to do. I always thought they had good players but Terry has given them a structure of play which is bringing results. He has made them very tough opponents and this is as tough a game as you can get."

Aberdeen have no fresh injury concerns and are likely to field the side that won at Kilmarnock on Sunday courtesy of a Mark Reynolds goal late in the game.

"We're delighted to be doing well," said McInnes. "We're in the fight at the top end of the table and that's the most pleasing thing."

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