DEREK McINNES is ready to throw new signing Donervon Daniels straight into Saturday’s League Cup semi-final against Dundee United and believes he can emulate Shay Logan in making a winning debut for Aberdeen in such a high-profile occasion.
Daniels has joined the Pittodrie club on loan from West Bromwich Albion until the end of the season to provide McInnes with additional cover in central defence after Ash Taylor joined Russell Anderson on the injured list.
The 21-year-old from Montserrat has not played since Boxing Day, when he made his final appearance of a loan spell at Blackpool. But McInnes has no fears about handing him a Hampden debut, having successfully trusted full-back Logan to make his first appearance for the club 12 months ago in the League Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone.
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“Shay is a good example,” said McInnes. “He had even less preparation as he arrived just one day before the semi-final last year and went straight into it. He is a great personality and handled it brilliantly. It shows it can be done. You would obviously like Donervorn to have had more games than he has recently, but he has been training and is ready. He is a player we have known about for a while. We didn’t just pluck him out of nowhere. When Ash was injured against Dundee, we had to act quickly.
“With Russell Anderson still out, it was too long to muddle on without a recognised centre back. The good thing is that Donervorn can play a number of positions, so even when Russell and Ash do come back, he could also play full back or in midfield.
“The game at Hampden takes care of itself. Even when Donervorn was at the hotel on Sunday we were giving him copies of our reports on Dundee United for the game. We showed him copies of recent games with United and some clips as well. So, even though he wasn’t training with us, he was still getting a handle on what to expect.”
The arrival of Daniels will allow McInnes to put Andrew Considine back to left-back and free Jonny Hayes to return to his most effective midfield role. “Hayes has done really well wherever we have played him,” added McInnes, “but at St Johnstone last Friday night the one change we had to make meant a few more moved around and it upset what had been a settled team for 11 games. One player missing disrupted three positions so, with Donervorn coming in, it does mean he can simply go in at the back and it won’t alter us too much.”
McInnes is hopeful of making further additions to his squad before the transfer window closes on Monday but does not anticipate securing the early capture of Inverness Caledonian Thistle defender Graeme Shinnie, who has already signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Aberdeen in June.
“I know I have not commented on Shinnie before but we have got to be respectful as he is still an Inverness player,” said McInnes. “Getting Graeme in for the summer pleases me no end. He is a player joining a good team and hopefully we can help him develop as a player.
“We might get one or two in before the end of the window and there could be a few going out on loan. We were looking at brining in one before getting Donervorn following Ash’s injury so there is still the opportunity to do so. But I’m not expecting Graeme to be here during this window.”
The Aberdeen manager is confident he will hold on to his prize assets during the current window, amid speculation Italian clubs Napoli and Roma are both interested in midfielder Ryan Jack, who is enjoying an exceptional season.
“The chairman and myself are trying to build something here and not break it up,” added McInnes. “We have had to endure a long time of not having success and debt hanging over the club. Now we have a team we can be proud of on the pitch and we are debt-free. There are a lot of positives at the club and we want that to continue rather than disrupt what we are trying to do.
“I have no doubt the players I have here have been mentioned in lots of different places. It would be naive not to think that’s the case. I know Ryan is getting a lot of spotlight put on him in recent weeks – rightly so – but his performances have been no different to last season.
“He is not the kind of player who always lights up games but people who know football will understand why he is so important to me. He is pivotal to what we do. I trust him in possession and not in possession. He trains right every single day and is a top professional and a top player.”