Kari Arnason baffled as Aberdeen men are snubbed by Scotland

Kari Arnason is hoping to spend the next week playing his part in getting Iceland to next year's World Cup finals in Russia but is surprised none of his Aberdeen team-mates is on a similar mission with Scotland.
Adam Rooney celebrates opening the scoring against St Johnstone. Picture: SNS.Adam Rooney celebrates opening the scoring against St Johnstone. Picture: SNS.
Adam Rooney celebrates opening the scoring against St Johnstone. Picture: SNS.

It might have needed a hat-trick from the Republic of Ireland striker Adam Rooney to move the Dons back on level terms with Celtic at the top of the Premiership but Kenny McLean and especially captain Graeme Shinnie have been major factors in taking them there as far as Arnason is concerned.

The central defender only returned for a second spell at Pittodrie in July from Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia but kept close enough tabs on his former team during his absence to appreciate the impact both have made at Aberdeen.

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That’s why someone so influential for his country during it’s amazingly successful run at Euro 2016 is puzzled by 
the lack of interest Gordon Strachan has shown in the pair as Scotland attempt to end their lengthy exile from major tournaments

“They are definitely knocking on the door. They are both capable players at international level, I think,” claimed Arnason. “I don’t understand why they’re not involved, to be honest.

“Graeme can play anywhere as he’s a great utility player and midfielder as well. He’s fantastic.

“It’s natural for the Scotland manager to look towards the Celtic player but they definitely have a chance. I can’t speak for them but it would frustrate me if I was knocking on the door and no-one else was being brought in.”

While Arnason is confident McLean and Shinnie will have a future at international level the 34-year-old defender knows his time there is running out and may be over completely if the next two qualifiers go against his country.

They are locked together on points with Croatia at the top of Group I, with Ukraine and Turkey just two behind and it’s an intimidating trip to Eskisehir to face Turkey on Friday followed by a visit from Kosovo next Monday.

Things would have been so much easier if they hadn’t suffered a shock defeat against Finland last month, which led to Arnason being dropped for the following 2-0 win at home to Ukraine which he knows could mean settling for a place on the bench for this forthcoming double header.

“I wasn’t playing here then but I gave it all against Finland and the result didn’t go our way,” he added. “I was out of the team for the first time in like seven years then so it was a bit disappointing, but we won the game which was the most important thing.

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“Hopefully I’ll get back in to it now but we will see what the manager does. I’ll support his decision whatever it is.

“Going into our qualification group, we felt it would go to the very last game. If we drop points, we could end up fourth so it is a very tight situation. We have to make sure we do our job.”

Aberdeen certainly did their job on Saturday, playing with an intensity St Johnstone couldn’t match to the extent that Tommy Wright described it as their worst performance in his entire time at the club.

Leaving Rooney of all people completely unmarked to head his first two goals within 18 minutes didn’t help and neither did Denny Johnstone’s crude tackle on Ryan Christie that led to the striker’s hat-trick clinching penalty with ten minutes left.

It was only Rooney’s third start this season but he can expect more. Manager Derek McInnes said: “There has been a bit of frustration from him that his game can be better and that comes from not getting the starts he wanted.

“However, today was a couple of notches up in terms of his own individual performance.”