MARLEY Watkins insists Aberdeen have the capabilities to split the Old Firm this season after showing great potential in a powerful start to the Premiership campaign.

The former Bristol City and Norwich striker netted the opener, his first for the Pittodrie club, in another convincing Dons victory away to Ross County on Sunday.

The 3-0 win was Aberdeen’s sixth from seven matches since losing the season’s curtain-raiser 1-0 at home to Rangers.

A shock 3-0 beating by Motherwell aside, the Dons have let only two other goals past them in that sequence with Watkins among the signings that seem to have re-energised the club after last season’s ailing fortunes.

Welshman Watkins certainly feels the impressive performances point towards a challenge to assumptions that Celtic and Rangers will occupy the top two placings.

“We’ve made a good start and we have to aim high and try to get into the top two,” the 29 year-old stressed.

“It is difficult because the Old Firm clubs have a much bigger budget, but we have to aim high and put that demand on ourselves, really.  

“It is obviously a big ask, but why not? 

“We are not here just to make up the numbers.”

Watkins broke his Dons’ duck at the same venue as he made his first mark for Inverness Caley Thistle back February 2014.

It was a spell in Scotland that earned him lucrative moves down south, as well as bringing a Sciottish Cup winners’ medal with John  Hughes’ side.

He is hoping the return north will reap even more success, although Watkins has never been prolific in front of goal and admits much of his best work comes in supplying chances for others.

“It is great to get off the mark and more importantly to take the three points, so it is happy days,” he said.

“To be fair, there was more pressure from myself because you want to get that goal.  

“I am playing up there and I am usually playing on the right wing. When you are playing through the middle you need to get goals and I think in most games I have been a threat.  “Before the weekend, I hadn’t put them away but the most important thing is that the team wins. 

“I do want to kick on and score more goals now that I am off the mark.

“I think I have won every game I have played against Ross County. I scored my first goal in Scotland up here for Inverness as well.  

“I remember it well. I stuck it in the bottom left hand corner and it went in off the post after Aaron Doran had set me up. I have good memories from here.

“I was confident on Sunday because I know what we have in our dressing room and how good it is.  

“We knew Motherwell wasn’t good enough and we needed to put on a performance against Ross County, more mentally that we dug deep and got the result. 

“We knew we couldn’t be complacent. We have to focus on the league now we are out of Europe.”

Manager Derek McInnes, in the aftermath of the County match, tipped Watkins to secure a career first by hitting double figures this season.

But the striker intends making sure his performances are right before worrying about goal counts.

“I try and score in every game but it is more important that we win every game we play.  

“I want to contribute even if I don’t score. As long as my teammates and the gaffer are happy with me then that is the main thing.

“If the manager feels I can score more, I’m pleased. I wish I was on penalties!

“I am capable of getting double figures. I should be close to double figures now if I am being honest.”

For now, Watkins is just happy to see fellow frontman Sam Cosgrove in recovery after longer-term injury and is looking to keep up the pressure on top four rivals Hibs in Friday’s home clash with St Mirren.

“Every team you have to give respect to. No team is just going to come up and fold,” he said.

“We know we need to be on it and focus on ourselves.  We will take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.”