Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists he expects his squad to be in an even better place during the second half of the season.

Following the return of fans favourite Niall McGinn last week, McInnes is not expecting to make wholesale changes during the January transfer window.

McInnes believes the likes of summer recruits Gary Mackay-Steven, Kari Arnason, Greg Stewart and Grey Tansey will now also have a better understanding of what his demands are.

Aberdeen, who drew with Hearts last weekend, finished 2017 as the closest challengers to reigning champions Celtic having opened up a three and eight point advantage over Rangers and Hibs in third and fourth place respectively.

McInnes, who turned down approaches from Rangers and Sunderland earlier this term, is taking his team to Dubai next Tuesday for a winter training camp and admits he is happy his side’s progress.

He said: “It’s been a slog and a tough campaign up until now and I’m encouraged that we’’re going to be strong again after the winter break.

“I was pleased with the performance against Hearts, even though we didn’t get the win and I’m not too downhearted. Also the players we signed during the summer, I now think the majority of them are up to speed where they know what’s expected of them and hopefully the intention of us and them is to kick on now.

“I think by and large the squad looks good and I’m really encouraged by what we’ve had from the players, especially the settling in side to it, up until now and that there will be more to come.”