Adam Rooney: Aberdeen know how to cope with a long season
Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney feels they are all set for a strong finish to the campaign after learning how to cope with long seasons.
The William Hill Scottish Cup final on May 27 falls close to 11 months after Aberdeen kicked off their competitive campaign against Fola Esch in the Europa League on June 30 last year, the third season in a row they have started early.
The Dons have only collected seven points from a possible 30 in both of their post-split fixtures combined in the past two seasons, but they have more cause to be focused this year with the Hampden date with Celtic to come.
Manager Derek McInnes goes into Saturday's Ladbrokes Premiership encounter with St Johnstone with a fully-fit squad and Rooney feels that is testament to preparation and long-range planning.
"Sometimes injuries can be down to luck but also, earlier on in the season, we did a lot more injury-prevention stuff," the Irishman said.
"We monitor lads' fitness and how tight they are after games on a Monday morning. That's down to physios and the fitness coach really.
"And it has probably had to do with the gaffer as well, we have probably tailored training differently. We might have had a few more days off or rest days, probably from the experience of having these long seasons. This is our third one in a row."
The Dons also have plenty to play for in the league as they seek to maintain or extend their nine-point gap over third-placed Rangers.
"The last couple of years Celtic had won the league and we have kind of fallen away a bit," Rooney said.
"The gaffer has used it to give some younger lads game time as well, which is important for them.
"But we have a lot of big games still to play and everyone is fully focused, and I'm sure we will keep going until the final."
Chris Millar believes retaining the core of the team has been a vital part of St Johnstone's recent success after he agreed a new deal which will take him to a decade at McDiarmid Park.
The midfielder has accepted a one-year contract with the Saints, who are fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership, and wants to kick off his 10th campaign with another shot at the Europa League.
"I wanted to be here and I wanted to get it sorted as soon as possible so I am delighted," the 34-year-old said.
"It will take me to 10 years. It's very rare in football these days. At St Johnstone there has been Steven Anderson of late and Alan Main before.
"It speaks volumes for the club, there has always been a core of players here that has had success. I feel I have contributed to that over the nine years I have been here and, to go 10 years at one club, it's something when I finish playing that I can look back on and feel really proud.
"The gaffer and the gaffer before have always added to the spine. A few of us are getting a wee bit older now as well so we know we have less games ahead of us than we had before, but that's one thing that has always led to the success here, the core of the team.
"There's boys who know it all and as soon as new players come in they know exactly what the club is all about."
Millar recently made his 300th appearance for the club and previously played more than 200 games for Morton before moving to Perth in the summer of 2008.
"When I signed here, you have always got ambitions and things you want to do within the game," he said.
"For me, I have won the cup, played in Europe, got to semi-finals, finished in the upper reaches of the league.
"So it's worked out brilliantly, I have managed to do that at St Johnstone and me being here as well has helped the club achieve the things that they want to achieve as well. It has worked out a great move for me nine years ago."
Millar is keen to achieve more success with the initial aim to hold on to fourth spot in the table.
Ahead of Saturday's trip to Aberdeen, Millar said: "We haven't managed to beat them this season so it's something that we want to do.
"We have generally had a good record against them in the past couple of seasons so we want to go up there and get a result. We want to make sure we get that fourth spot because Europe is a big thing for us.
"There's a lot to play for and I want to get back involved. I have been sitting on the bench for the last few games so I just want to get back on the pitch and try and contribute."