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Considine plays down title hopes

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Aberdeen defender Andrew Considine feels his side have been boosted by their European exploits - but not enough to challenge Celtic.

Celtic's performances against Legia Warsaw, despite their Champions League reprieve, have given some Dons fans hope that they are vulnerable under new boss Ronny Deila, who has had limited activity in the transfer market.

Aberdeen showed huge improvement under Derek McInnes last year and have added David Goodwillie to the first team that finished third and won the League Cup last season.

But Considine is not eyeing a title challenge ahead of their Scottish Premiership opener against Dundee United at Pittodrie on Sunday.

The defender said: "Celtic are still Celtic. They spend millions of pounds on players and they are still streets ahead of us.

"All we want to do is have a season like last year, finish third or second or something like that.

"It's going to be another tough league but I feel, with the way the boys are performing this year, that we have got it in the bag."

Aberdeen beat Celtic home and away last season but Considine knows they face a battle to keep up with Celtic's ongoing standards.

"Don't get me wrong, last year we took Celtic to the wire when we played them at home and away, but it's about having that consistency," he said.

"It's maybe one thing we need to work on this year. We slipped up once or twice, which Celtic don't do. It's going to be tough to catch Celtic but you never know."

Aberdeen lifted their home support with their performance against Real Sociedad on Thursday before two late goals saw the Spaniards seal a 3-2 win, 5-2 on aggregate.

Earlier thumping wins over Daugava Riga and a memorable victory against Groningen in Holland have also boosted the team.

Considine said: "All six games have been tough games. I'd say it's given the whole squad a massive bit of confidence. You can see that every day in training and even in the game on Thursday night.

"All we are looking for is a good start to the season and just have a consistent season like last year.

"It will be nice to do a bit better than last year but all we are after is a solid season and to get top four."

Aberdeen are without the suspended Jonny Hayes and Russell Anderson but Clark Robertson returns to the squad following knee surgery while teenage winger Scott Wright is also included.

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara believes his side face almost as tough a task as they could get at Pittodrie.

The Tangerines head for the Granite City to take on their New Firm rivals in an opening-day encounter hoping to begin the new campaign on a positive note.

Derek McInnes's Dons were put out of the Europa League by Spanish side Real Sociedad on Thursday night so are now focusing fully on their domestic duties.

And McNamara believes games do not come much harder then their first-day test away to the Reds.

He said: "It's a tough one - no doubt about it.

"Aberdeen are a strong side who proved themselves last season by winning the League Cup.

"So all credit to them and they will be looking to build on those achievements.

"It's never an easy game up there.

"But we want to look on it from the positive viewpoint that it's a game we should be really looking forward to.

"These are the kind of fixtures you want to play in and that's what we've been telling the players.

"We'll be as prepared as possible and hopefully the hard work we've put in during pre-season can pay off for us."

United will be without Sean Dillon after the defender underwent surgery on his fractured cheekbone. Dillon is joined on the sidelines by Mark Wilson who is recovering from a broken foot.

Another defender, John Souttar, is still out due to an ankle injury but Keith Watson should make it back from a calf injury.

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