Scott McKenna may be one of Scotland’s most highly rated young defenders but he still remembers the lesson veteran striker Kenny Miller taught him last season.
The Aberdeen centre-back’s form has been so impressive that Hull City, Celtic and Aston Villa have had bids rejected for the 22-year-old, who has already captained his country after becoming a fixture in Alex McLeish’s Scotland team.
However, he still has painful memories of how Miller dragged him around Ibrox in a 3-0 defeat against Rangers just a few weeks after finally getting established in Derek McInnes’ side last season.
Now McKenna is determined to show he can get the better of someone who celebrates his 39th birthday on Sunday by preventing Miller scoring in a sixth successive game for Dundee.
He said: “I played against him when Rangers beat us 3-0 at Ibrox and he dragged me all over the place that night.
“That was a big learning curve for me that evening as Carlos Pena played behind him and Miller dragged me everywhere out of position.
“Rangers were the far better team that night but I have learned from that and hopefully tomorrow that will be the case. He has hit a good bit of form and I know he has scored seven in his last five games.
“In terms of movement and knowledge of the games he’s one of the toughest I’ve faced.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people he is a great professional and you can see that because to still be playing at this level at 38 it is a credit to him.
“He is a difficult opponent and we know we will have our hands full but you expect someone with that experience to give you problems. It will just be up to me to try and nullify that threat.”
Aberdeen have certainly made a habit of nullifying Dundee’s threat in recent years as they’re unbeaten in the last 19 league meetings between the clubs.
The Dons have actually won the last ten in a row and McKenna is out to extend that sequence to move them back to within a point of top spot, at least until tomorrow night.
They follow that with visits from Hearts and Celtic before a trip to Livingston to round off 2018 and the defender wants to end the year with Aberdeen back in a more familiar place in the Premiership after starting last Tuesday’s win against Livingston in the bottom six.
He added: “We’re up to fourth now and if we beat Dundee we’ll just be a point behind both Kilmarnock and Rangers. So it is looking a lot better for us right now, but we need to carry on winning and maintaining that momentum for the matches before the break.
“We are scoring a lot more goals recently, which is really pleasing for everyone, but we have been a bit slack at the back at times.
“Luckily the boys at the top end of the pitch have been bailing us out recently and if we get a good combination of both then the results will continue to be positive.
“We’ve probably not put that run of wins together that has really got the attention of everyone as we’ve maybe won two or three then lost one.
“Now if we can go on and win three, four or five in a row then attention will be back on us as will be high up the league again.”
Aberdeen will still be without Gary Mackay-Steven but Derek McInnes hopes to have the former Celtic winger back for the Hearts game on Saturday. Things aren’t so clear cut for injured defender Mikey Devlin who was seeing a specialist in London yesterday.
The Aberdeen manager said: “That’s not through any real necessity or panic, it’s just to get a gauge and a second opinion on where they think his injury is at.
“Hopefully we can get some positive news about Mikey and he can be actively playing a part in some of the games left before the winter break.”