Derek McInnes has admitted Aberdeen could be tempted into selling Rangers target Kenny McLean in January rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.
The Ibrox club had a £300,000 bid for the midfielder thrown out in June but the Pittodrie club are likely to be more amenable to offers from interested parties when the transfer window reopens now the player has made it clear he will definitely be leaving when his contract ends in May. That wasn’t the news McInnes was looking for in the build-up to tonight’s top-of-the-table clash with Celtic but the Aberdeen manager is hoping they see off any interest McLean, pictured, until he’s helped them bring more silverware to Pittodrie.
“I’ve got it in my head that I will be working with him for the rest of the season but, like everything else, we can only control that until then,” said McInnes.
“If we get an offer in January then it may well be something that we would consider like everything else.
“I’m not thinking about replacing him in January and we have considered offers before but it wasn’t in our interests to do anything. That may well be different in January but I would rather he lifted the Scottish Cup with us and played to his full potential for us for the rest of the season.”
On the plus side, the majority of the current Aberdeen squad are now on long-term contracts, with Anthony O’Connor close to agreeing a deal to join that number just as promising youngsters Scott Wright and Scott McKenna did earlier this month.
All three are in the squad as the Dons look to end Celtic’s unbeaten run in domestic football at the 61st time of asking at Pittodrie this evening and, in the process, open up a three-point lead at the top of the Premiership.
McInnes may claim otherwise, but he knows it would a significant psychological step forward for the team who finished runners-up to Brendan Rodgers side in all three major competitions last season but ended up losing all six meetings between the clubs. Aberdeen conceded 14 goals in the process but that won’t stop their manager continuing with McKenna in central defence now the 20-year-old has helped the Dons to three successive clean sheets, as he added: “You never know with players but I’m as sure as I can be, knowing Scott and his temperament. In the three games he has played Scott has done well and he can continue that but these guys are playing for Celtic because they are good players.
“If it is not Dembele it is Griffiths. You have got to be ready to play against big strikers, technical strikers but up until now Scott has done everything we would want from him. He has been excellent.”
That’s not a statement McInnes was able to instantly apply to Gary Mackay-Steven following his move from Celtic in the summer when the only headlines he initially made were for being fished out of the River Kelvin.
A recent match-winning performance at Easter Road has changed that and McInnes hopes facing the club that were happy to let him leave will provide added motivation.
“Gary worked hard to get to that level of performance against Hibs. He was a shining light. He was bright, played exactly as he’d trained the previous week. It just so happens it’s Celtic now. Any time a player plays against his former club there might be something more on it but once it starts it’s all about the game.”