Scott McKenna: Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes ‘unsure’ if wantaway player will face Rijeka
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is still waiting anxiously to see if Scott McKenna will be on tomorrow’s flight to Croatia or embarking on a career elsewhere after the Scotland international submitted a transfer request yesterday.
McInnes revealed after Sunday’s 3-2 win against Hearts that Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers have had improved offers for the defender rejected, but that he expected more moves for the player before Thursday’s English transfer deadline.
What he probably was not expecting was McKenna increasing the pressure for his departure from Pittodrie, especially as the 22-year-old, who already has 12 caps for his country, still has four years of his current contract to run.
Not that the pragmatic McInnes ever thought it remotely likely the player would see that out given that Celtic, Hull City and Aston Villa had offers for him rejected last summer, but it does leave the club in control of the situation for someone they value at £10m.
However, the timing could hardly be worse as the Dons approach the third round of Europa League qualifying away to Rijeka on Thursday knowing only AEK Larnaca of Cyprus or Belgium’s Gent would stand in their way of progressing to the group stage if they get through.
There is never a good time to lose a player of McKenna’s ability, but an immediate departure would be especially frustrating as experienced central defenders Mikey Devlin and Ash Taylor are injured at the moment. Calvin Ramsay, who only recently celebrated his 16th birthday and has yet to make his top-team debut, was the only recognisable central defender on the bench for the game against Hearts.
Aberdeen were last night remaining tight-lipped about the situation other than to confirm that McKenna has asked to leave, but their weekend match-winner Ryan Hedges, pictured, is confident they can cope with the loss of the Scotland cap, in the long term at least. The Wales international winger scored his first goal since making the summer switch north from Barnsley to clinch all three points in the Premiership opener and isn’t surprised McKenna is in demand.
“You can see why, the quality that Scotty possesses. I’m sure if something does happen with Scotty then we’re more than capable of dealing with it,” said Hedges. “We’ve got Mikey Devlin and Ash Taylor coming back from injury and they can step in and do a job. He’s been Scotland captain and that has probably boosted his confidence and boosted his value. Whatever move comes about, if it does come about, he definitely deserves it and he’s proved that on the pitch.”
McInnes recently revealed that Aberdeen had also rejected offers for Sam Cosgrove, which is no surprise given a double against Hearts made it 27 from his last 33 games. There’s no doubt he will play against Rijeka, and Hedges is relieved the big striker is definitely staying for now.
“I think his first goal against Hearts showed the quality that he’s got and the pace that he possesses,” he added. “Sometimes you probably would label him as a target man but he’s got many more strings in his bow. That’s been proven.”