Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes braced for more Scott McKenna bids from England

Derek McInnes is convinced Aberdeen will be in Croatia a week today preparing for a Europa League tie against Rijeka but is far from certain Scott McKenna will still be a member of his squad by the time that tie rolls around.

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes, right, keeps an eye on Scott McKenna in Training. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers recently joined last summer’s trio of Celtic, Hull City and Aston Villa in having bids rejected for the highly rated 22-year-old Dons defender, who 
has already won 12 caps for Scotland.

Despite that, his current club manager only expects interest in the player to intensify over the next few days, especially as the English transfer window closes the same night Aberdeen play the first leg of their third-round qualifier if they eliminate Georgia’s Chikhura Sachkhere this evening.

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They go in as favourites after last week’s 1-1 draw in Tbilisi but, significantly, all McInnes is banking on is having McKenna available for tonight’s tie at Pittodrie and the first Premiership game of the season at home to Hearts on Sunday.

“There is a week to go in the window in England so it will all start to heat up now,” said a concerned McInnes. “There is a real possibility that clubs will come back in and every chance there could be more clubs than have been in for him already. We are not encouraging offers but we anticipate there will be other ones. Right now, Scott is just concentrating on the next two games and we’ll see what happens next week.

“The valuation hasn’t been met as it stands, so that’s something I have to leave them to sort out because it’s not me who decides those things.

“I have a high opinion of Scott, I think he’s the best defender this country has and he’ll get to 50 caps pretty quickly.

“He’s got a lot of attributes and still a lot to learn, but it’s not my opinion that matters when someone is going to 
buy him.”

McKenna’s current contract still has four years to run but his manager has never believed the central defender would be around long enough to make any renewal an issue, rather the length of the deal was a guarantee Aberdeen could dictate the size of any transfer fee.

After all, they’ve seen Ryan Fraser go from the £400,000 winger they sold to Bournemouth just before McInnes’ arrival to now being rated at £30 million but the Dons manager knows there are more recent examples of how rapidly a player’s value increases after moving to England.

That’s why he’s hoping the Pittodrie club’s board of directors stick to their valuation of McKenna which is thought to be nearer £10m plus add-ons than the maximum of £5m from any offer so far.

“We have had this situation before with our league and have seen so many players go down to England where there valuation has increased pretty quickly,” he added.

“Sometimes people have just played a handful of games and it has shot up. Look at 
Virgil Van Dijk, once he was in a Southampton strip he was worth a lot more than they paid Celtic for him.

“John McGinn is another and then you have Kenny McLean at Norwich, so you can see why Celtic are digging their heels in over Kieran Tierney because he will be the same if he goes down there. It’s just the perception of it all up here.”

Uncertainty over McKenna
combined with injuries to Mickey Devlin and Ash Taylor, whose torn hamstring looks like keeping him out long term, means McInnes is hoping to add a central defender to his squad ahead of Sunday’s visit from Hearts.

Of course he had hoped Stevie
May would have moved on by now but the striker is in the squad for tonight’s game after his deal for a return to St Johnstone surprisingly collapsed last week, although there is still plenty of interest in someone who has failed to impress at Pittodrie.

The Aberdeen manager is confident his starting line-up will be good enough to complete the job against their Georgian opponents if they show the right determination from the start tonight.

“From our point of view we want to be more positive and aggressive in possession but they will still feel the game is alive and will hope to have moments in the game.”