Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes Sam Cosgrove has filled the gap left by Adam Rooney’s departure last summer.

Cosgrove has hit a rich vein of form recently and has hit the net 16 times so far this season – including four in his last two games.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Sam Cosgrove of Aberdeen celebrates during the Scottish Cup 5th Round match between Aberdeen and Queen of The South at Pittodrie Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

(Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

After seeing Rooney head south to join Salford City in the summer, there were fears the Dons hadn’t adequately replaced their former talisman.

“We had a striker here for many years in Adam Rooney who would always get to that 20-goal plus mark,” McInnes told the Aberdeen Evening Express.

“He was scoring penalties. However, penalties have still to be converted and Sam has looked very comfortable, as Rooney did, in these instances. What Sam is doing is testament to a lot of his hard work.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes during the Scottish Cup 5th Round match between Aberdeen and Queen of The South at Pittodrie Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

(Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

“He is listening, improving and is looking like a proper centre forward. Sam is getting his goals now to match his performances. For a couple of months at the start of the season, we looked as if we weren’t carrying enough threat or potency.

“We had enough effort and control of games but we’re not scoring enough goals.”

The former Carlisle striker took nine months to get his first Dons goal but hasn’t stopped scoring since.

With McInnes’ side looking to stay as close to Rangers and Celtic as possible, Cosgrove’s form has come at the best time possible.

SALFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: Adam Rooney of Salford City looks on during the FA Trophy third round match between Salford City and Maidstone United at Moor Lane on February 5, 2019 in Salford, England.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Rooney was the first to score over 20 goals in three consecutive seasons since Joe Harper in the late 1970s.

Cosgrove is well on his way towards hitting 20 in his first full campaign at Pittodrie.

At only 22, Cosgrove could well go one better and smash Rooney’s run of three seasons of 20-plus goals.

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