Aberdeen players can handle the heat - Derek McInnes

By Liam McLeodBBC Scotland
Aberdeen players celebrating
Aberdeen went top of the Premiership with victory over St Johnstone
Scottish Premiership: Motherwell v Aberdeen
Date: Sunday, 4 January Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell Kick-off: 15:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his players can handle the pressure of being top of the Scottish Premiership.

The Dons are two points clear and could extend their lead against Motherwell on Sunday before second-placed Celtic's match at Kilmarnock on Monday.

Celtic currently have a game in hand over Aberdeen.

"It's nice to be there and I honestly never felt that that [handling the pressure] was going to be an issue," McInnes said.

"It was all about the game, we rested them down from the Inverness game [Sunday's 1-0 win]. We cut the training short but they looked ready.

"The way we played against St Johnstone [Thursday's 2-0 win] suggested they were so we just need to make sure we are ready to go again on Sunday."

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes
McInnes is in his second full season as Aberdeen manager

McInnes has led Aberdeen to the summit of the top flight the deepest into a season since May 1991.

And despite winning six league games in a row, the Dons boss is wary of a Motherwell backlash at Fir Park, with the Steelmen having lost 5-0 to Hamilton Academical on New Year's Day.

"Sometimes when you take a sore one like that it gives you a chance to analyse things and be ready, players are always ready to react and respond to that," he told BBC Scotland.

"It has probably been the case that a strong Hamilton performance has played a part in that result.

"The fact they lost 5-0 doesn't change our approach to it, we just have to try and make sure we are strong, that's the only thing we can influence.

"They still have a nucleus of a team that did so well last season and we'll have a job on our hands to get a result."

Motherwell memorably pipped Aberdeen to second place on the final day of last season, but the contrasting fortunes of both since then have been stark, with Motherwell now third bottom.

And while that game was at Pittodrie, McInnes has an undefeated record at Fir Park as Aberdeen manager.

"We've had a couple of wins down there, won in the cup, but it's never an easy game," he added.

"But I'd like to think they know they're going to get a tough game and that's the important thing."