Bruce Anderson has been challenged to make an impact at Aberdeen in the second half of the season.
The young striker, pictured, has returned to Pittodrie following a frustrating loan spell at Championship Ayr United.
The 22-year-old scored just twice in 12 appearances for the lower league outfit.
Leeds United striker Ryan Edmondson has returned to his parent club following the end of his loan spell.
And with a leaner frontline, McInnes wants Anderson to shine and become a key player and goalscorer this term.
He said: “The challenge for Bruce is to get into our team and be a key player for us in the second half of the campaign.
“I spoke to Bruce and that is his challenge – he knows that.
“Now that he is back he has to use the experience he had at Ayr and try to channel that into Aberdeen.”
Both Anderson’s goals while on loan at Ayr came on his debut on October 6 in a League Cup defeat of League Two part-timers Albion Rovers.
Anderson began the season as the sole striker when starting in the 1-0 Premiership loss to Rangers in the Premiership opener at Pittodrie on August 1.
He was pitched in from the start against the Ibrox club because Sam Cosgrove and Curtis Main were both ruled out through injury.
With a striker injury crisis, McInnes secured England Under-19 international striker Edmondson on loan until January.
Not long after Edmondson’s arrival, Anderson was sent on a season-long loan to Ayr to get regular game time.
McInnes activated the call-back clause for Anderson this month, and also recalled midfielder Miko Virtanen from a loan at Arbroath.
Anderson has been touted as one of the hottest talents to emerge from the Pittodrie youth system and a natural finisher.
Now back at Pittodrie after that frustrating loan spell, McInnes has urged Anderson to step up.
McInnes said “I spoke to Bruce at the start of December and the loan at Ayr didn’t go perfectly.
“He wasn’t starting games as much as he would have liked towards the end.
“Just because it hasn’t worked at Ayr doesn’t mean to say he doesn’t still learn from that.
“He got some valuable experience and some game time.
“Bruce won’t be the first player that has went out on loan and it has not been perfect, but has still been able to come back and have an impact.”
Livingston postponement squeezes calendar once more
Anderson was named on the bench, along with fellow striker Cosgrove, for the midweek Premiership clash at Livingston.
The match was postponed by referee Steven McLean 10 minutes after the scheduled 7.45pm kick-off due to a waterlogged pitch.
It is the second time McLean has called off the fixture at the Tony Macaroni Arena at short notice in two weeks.
McLean postponed the original match on December 30 two hours before kick-off due to frozen patches on the artificial pitch.
The SPFL have confirmed Aberdeen’s rearranged game against Livingston at Almondvale will now take place on Saturday January 30, which is a free weekend following the postponement of the Scottish Cup third round games that were due to take place that day.
The Dons will face Livi twice in quick succession with their home game against the Lions now scheduled for Tuesday February 2 with a 6pm kick-off.
The @SPFL have this afternoon confirmed a rescheduled date for last night’s postponed match and a change to the upcoming home match v Livingston
🔴 Livingston v Aberdeen (Postponed last night) | Now Sat 30th Jan, 3pm
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) January 14, 2021
McInnes, whose side travel to Ross County tomorrow, said: “It isn’t ideal that we have gone down to Livingston twice to prepare for a game and not get to get the ball rolling.
“We now have to try to squeeze it into the calendar at some point as ourselves and Livingston are games behind others.
“The sooner we get it played the better because even trying to get this fixture into the calendar was a challenge.
“We want to get points on board and our games played.”
The postponement denied Aberdeen the chance to gain ground on second-placed Celtic, who are five points clear, but have a game in hand.
The Dons sit third in the Premiership, two points ahead of fourth-placed Hibs but having played two games fewer than the Easter Road side.
McInnes said: “The first indication I had was when my staff came in to tell me just as they were setting up the warm-up.
“That would be just before seven o’clock and there were puddles of water.”