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Aberdeen reaping rewards of a settled David Bates in the north-east

HIS travels have seen him drop-in on a wide range of football clubs like Raith Rovers and Rangers, Brechin and Brugge during a relatively short period in the professional game.

But recent form suggests that David Bates looks as settled as can be in the north-east of Scotland where Aberdeen are reaping the rewards of the faith they placed in him when ending his unhappy time at Hamburg SV and transporting him Pittodrie.

The 25-years-old, capped four times for Scotland during his short but eye-catching spell at Rangers three years ago, saw his upward trajectory abruptly halted as a move to German football with Hamburg did not turn out as hoped with injury interrupting his progress.

Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and Cercle Brugge didn’t work out and he was grateful when Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass offered him a three-year deal in August last year and the opportunity to move his career back on track.

Still, there were some among the Red Army who, certainly early on in with his new employer, thought the big centre-back had not lived up to the hype that surrounded his signing with the Dons’ porous defence coming in for some stinging criticism.

“At the start the team wasn’t playing so well and I knew myself I could do better in games,” Bates admitted.

“Now, we are starting to play a lot better as a team and personally I feel I have come onto my game a little bit. However, I still think there’s more to come from us all, including myself.”

Going into the break with a tight victory over Dundee at the weekend was exactly what he wanted as Aberdeen sit in sixth place in the Premiership table and ready for business during the January transfer window.

What’s important for him, though, is that having missed out on a proper pre-season schedule, he has settled into his role at the heart of the Dons defence.

“It has been different as I had been chopping and changing the last couple of seasons,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a while to get used to a style again.

“Different style, different players and how everyone plays around you. Trying to get used to that and I think that’s why recently we have ended up with good results.

“We have players who have played a lot with each other this season and we are getting used to each other.

“It has been good and really enjoyable the last few weeks.”

As for his own contribution; there is improvement to come, he contends.

He said: “There’s definitely more to come and I think I can definitely have been better in certain games.  I’m just happy I’m helping the team get good results on the pitch.

“I definitely know there is more to come from myself and the team and I’m just happy we are starting to get results and playing a lot better.”

The doubters among the fans have changed their tune on the Fifer’s role in Glass’ side and now see him as a crucial component in the bid to climb the table and make a serious attempt at claiming a Europa League spot, despite the lack of atmosphere in stadia due to the Covis restrictions on supporter numbers.

“You try to get yourself ready for the game,” he said, “but you go out there and there is no atmosphere and no fans. It’s hard to get going in certain games.

“That’s why we love football; the fans and the emotion. It can give teams the edge in a game which is great and it’s disappointing we’re back to that, especially with the way the Aberdeen fans have been with us this year home and away. They have been great.

“We were inspired by the fans during the 4-1 win over St Mirren game with the terrible weather we had, and the supporters were still there.

“We scored two early goals and the place was buzzing. You can tell at times like that but they are always behind us. They’ve been great.”

Bates may have turned a corner, but he will not allow himself to dream of a return to the Scotland set-up; at least not for the moment.

“I’m just really focusing on Aberdeen,” he said. “If you focus on your club career things like that take care of itself. I just want to enjoy football and get back to winning all the time.”

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