If there was ever a player who might have been tempted to give Scotland’s Peru and Mexico tour a wide berth, it was Kenny McLean. The 26-year-old is effectively between clubs before he embarks on a new, long-sought adventure in which he will enter the most important phase of his career.
Norwich City now awaits on the back of ending his time at Aberdeen by helping them claim a fourth consecutive second place. Any desire by McLean for a full summer recharge before his assault on English football with the Championship side would have been understandable.
Yet, the opportunity to add to the solitary Scotland cap he earned in March 2016 and make an impression in the early stages of the Alex McLeish era was always going to trump that. McLean is a man who considers that a chance to “represent your country is the biggest honour there is”.
“I think the next couple of weeks will be excellent,” he said. “Two big games to look forward to and teams who will provide a test.”
McLean is proud that, having signed for Norwich in January, he then passed with honour the test of being back on loan to Aberdeen, producing some of the best football of his three years at Pittodrie and enjoying the “perfect” end by claiming the runners-up berth with a final-day win at the home of champions Celtic.
That game produced some post-match back-biting after Aberdeen Graeme Shinnie made a late challenge on Scott Brown that led to the Celtic captain declaring he doesn’t “have great quality” and branding it “a little boy’s tackle”.
Shinnie’s presence on the Scotland tour is evidence to McLean that he has what it takes to acquit himself at the highest level.
“There is no doubt Shinnie is a quality player,” he said. “The manager wouldn’t pick him if that wasn’t the case because there is so much quality throughout the country. Broony will know how good he is. They are two very competitive characters and that was just the situation at the time. The comments from Broony were just in the heat of the moment.”
In the heat of Peru and Mexico over the next fortnight, McLean is determined to seize his moment.