Alex McLeish made the step-up to the Scotland senior side at 21 and Derek McInnes has told the reinstated national team manager that current Aberdeen central defender Scott McKenna is ready to do likewise.
The youngster, who has kept experienced Iceland international Kari Arnason out the team at times this season, was already certain to be in the Scotland Under-21 squad for the European qualifier away to Andorra on 23 March.
However, the Aberdeen manager believes the friendly against Costa Rica at Hampden Park the same night would be the ideal place for McKenna to really show what he can do.
McInnes has already had talks with his Scotland counterpart and McLeish of all people should know the benefits of giving youth a chance as the Aberdeen legend was the same age as McKenna when Jock Stein awarded him the first of 77 caps against Portugal in March 1980.
Hearts’ equally young defender John Souttar has already been linked with a call-up for the Costa Rica match and the trip to Hungary four days later, now McInnes is hoping McKenna will get the nod.
He said: “Regardless of Scott Brown’s retirement I have got players here that have got a strong case for being involved.
“Kenny [McLean] has already been involved and [Graeme] Shinnie has been in the squad but there’s no doubt McLean, Shinnie and McKenna recently have played really well. I don’t know what Alex’s thinking but I spoke to him last week and we had a chat about a few of my players so time will tell. McKenna has dealt with everything that has come his way so why not try him?
“He is going to be involved in the under-21 squad and trying to get them qualified and I see a lot of merit in that as well. But he won’t let anybody down whatever squad he’s in and I thought he was magnificent against Celtic last weekend.
“Scott got better and better as the game went on and I thought that him and McLean were brilliant on the day and Alex would have seen that for himself on Sunday.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is unhappy that Scotland have arranged friendlies in Peru and Mexico in May and June. But McInnes says he will be delighted for any of his men who are given the opportunity to make the trip.
“I want the boys to be involved in the summer friendlies as it would be a huge boost for them,” he said. “I know how important it is for all my players to be involved if they get the chance to play for their country.”