Derek McInnes hails Aberdeen’s returning internationals

Jonny Hayes, making his Republic of Ireland debut, was praised on his return to Aberdeen. Picture: PA

Jonny Hayes, making his Republic of Ireland debut, was praised on his return to Aberdeen. Picture: PA

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Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has hailed new caps Kenny McLean and Jonny Hayes and outlined the benefit to club and country.

McLean, 24, was drafted in by Gordon Strachan to make his Scotland debut in the 1-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic in Prague last week.

Hayes, 28, made his first appearance for Republic of Ireland as a second-half substitute in the 1-0 home win over Switzerland and he came off the bench again for Martin O’Neill’s side in the 2-2 draw against Slovakia.

McInnes welcomed all his international players back to Pittodrie, but had special praise for his midfield dynamic duo.

He said: “It has been a good international break in terms of having so many involved. We had nine away in total, younger lads right through to senior players and by and large they all came back after positive performances and feel good about themselves.

“From the chairman to the kitchen staff, everybody is pleased and proud of the players involved.

“I have always thought a strong, successful Aberdeen side will provide the opportunity for more players to be involved at international level.

“When you are trying to bring players, you can confidently say we have X amount of international players here.

“We are delighted for Kenny and Jonny in particular because both have been strong performers for me this year.It is good to see good work being rewarded and I am delighted that both Gordon and Martin brought both boys in.

“I think we will get the benefit of that, as will I think Scotland and Republic of Ireland.

“I watched Kenny and I thought he was very confident, very assured, always wanting the ball and looks like an international player and hopefully he can continue to improve with us and get more games with Scotland.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton defender Jesus Garcia Tena admits he feels so at home with Accies he is even starting to sound like the locals.

The Spanish centre-back first moved to Scotland back in 2012 with Livingston and is now into his third season with the New Douglas Park side.

But in that time his Catalan
lilt has been replaced by a delivery that is more Bothwell than Barcelona.

The 25-year-old former Espanyol and Juventus trainee is so content with life at the Ladbrokes Premiership outfit he can even see himself seeing out his career in Lanarkshire.

He said: “I’m totally happy in Scotland and I’ve even married a Scottish girl. Everyone tells me I have a Scottish accent now too. I don’t notice that too much but everyone says it.

“You always miss home and there’s always that temptation to go back but would I stay here for the rest of my career? Why not? I’m happy here.”

For now, Tena’s main concern is stopping Aberdeen from reigniting their title push when Accies travel to Pittodrie on Sunday.

“You never know if their challenge is over now, Celtic could slip up this weekend and that might put Aberdeen back into it,” he said.

“Hopefully, though, they won’t get a result this weekend and then it is over.”

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