Derek McInnes backs Kenny McLean for strong season

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. Picture: John Devlin
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. Picture: John Devlin
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DEREK McInnes last night backed big-money signing Kenny McLean to make a major impact this season – starting in tonight’s Europa League tie in Macedonia.

The Dons face KF Shkendija in Skopje in the first qualifying round and are huge favourites with the bookies to end the tie after the first leg.

McLean cost the Dons £300,000 during the winter transfer window when he moved from St Mirren.

But he is yet to open his scoring account for the Pittodrie side, even though he netted seven goals for the relegated Paisley side last season before his move.

And McInnes believes Dons fans will soon start to see the best of the central midfielder.

He said: “Kenny has fitted in brilliantly with us. It’s not always easy to make that transition from a club that is hugely dependent on him and battling relegation. There’s no doubt about his quality. We feel he’s one of a few players we have brought in who can add something to us. We have no doubt Kenny can bring a goal threat from the central areas.

“It’s a big season for him. But it’s a big season for a lot of players.

“Kenny played a few positions at St Mirren and he was someone they looked to when looking for results. He took that on board brilliantly. Whenever we watched him we saw he always took responsibility. Even when things were not going well he was looking to impose himself and affect the game positively. He’s brought that attitude to our club and he backs himself to make things happen for us.

“He’s someone we enjoy working with and we feel there is improvement to come. We see him scoring goals in training day in and day out. It’s something that happens sometimes. I do think as a team that although our goal return was good, there was a lot of onus on [Adam] Rooney up front. We could still chip in goals from elsewhere. We had the second best return from set pieces but we are looking to add more from open play.

“Kenny’s job is to get amongst it. His general play has been terrific and we are more than happy with him.”

The Premiership runners-up face dangerous opposition tonight with the Macedonians quietly confident of getting a decent result against the Scots.

But Aberdeen will have the advantage of playing the game at Macedonia’s National Stadium, with the tie being moved from their home city of Tetove. The heat in Skopje won’t be an issue either, with the game kicking off at 9pm local time.

McInnes has belief in his players to handle the occasion, which is likely to be played in front of a tiny attendance.

He said: “It may take a bit away from them as it is not at their home ground.

“The game is the same regardless of where it is. In terms of atmosphere it is not going to be what we are used to and maybe not what they are used to but the stadium is fine. The pitch is fine. Once the first whistle goes you just have to go and deal with the game. It is not about the pitch, the surroundings, the opposition – it is about our ability to bring a level of performance that we are capable of.

“It is the performance that will get us the result we are looking for.”