Former boss of Swansea City and Rangers target drops big hint over January transfer

Former boss of Swansea City and Rangers target drops big hint over January transfer

Derek McInnes explains why Aberdeen were right to let Ayr goal machine Lawrence Shankland leave

Shankland, 23, was with the Dons from 2014 until last year but never really made the grade in the Granite City.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is delighted to have four players in the latest Scotland squad but admits it has been a source of “frustration”.

Devlin is joined in the squad by Gary Mackay-Steven, who picked up his second cap against Portugal, Graeme Shinnie and his flat-mate Scott McKenna, with the latter likely to start at the back. McKenna and Devlin have started to form a promising partnership at club level, having played nine games as a centre-back pairing, that could be tested at international level next week.

Defenders Mikey Devlin and Scott McKenna are joined by midfielders Graeme Shinnie and Gary Mackay-Steven in Alex McLeishs 23-man party.

Devlin joined the Dons in January and was recovering from a knee injury at the time. The priority for the Dons was to get him fit first, before any playing ambitions would come into focus. He has started all but one of 18 competitive games this season, with the controversial red card picked up against Kilmarnock seeing him miss the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone.

“It shows what can be done. If youre playing well here, youre in the eye of the international manager.”

“Its not my call (whether he plays) but I am sure Alex needs to see who is ready to go. If any of my players are called upon, they will be motivated to do as well as they can. With Mikey, Gary, Graeme and Scott, we now want to have as many involved on the pitch as we can and hopefully play their part in two winning performances.

Mackay-Steven and uncapped Devlin were called up late for Scotlands 3-1 friendly defeat by Portugal last month, with the winger gaining his second cap as a substitute at Hampden.

McInnes added: I dont think its hugely important to have an off-field relationship – on the pitch is what matters. We havent always had the option to play them together with injuries and suspensions but when we have done, theres enough to suggest potential for a good partnership.

As well as the four players in the Scotland squad to face Albania and Israel in the Nations League, Niall McGinn has again been chosen by Northern Ireland manager Michael ONeill.

“But, right across the board, we had four in the under-20s, but Frank Ross had to pull out because of injury,” McInnes said.

Its important to keep striving to better individually and hopefully a partnership can keep developing through time together on the pitch. It certainly doesnt do them any harm that theyre good friends off the pitch.

“We are represented at all levels, but I think more importantly at the minute is getting those players in the senior squad, which is something we have at times been frustrated by.”

After withdrawals ahead of the Portugal friendly last month, Devlin was drafted into the squad and kept his place when McLeish named his 23 players for the Uefa Nations League qualifiers against Albania and Israel.

McInnes was unsure whether McLeish was more open to playing players domestically than his predecessors.

However, he said: “Weve been the second best team in Scotland for the last five years and Ive always felt that, if my players and playing well and regularly, they give themselves a chance of being in the international set-up.”

McInnes thought that the “signs are very encouraging” that midfielder Lewis Ferguson, who is in Scotlands under-20 squad, would be a future full cap.

Ferguson scored the winning goal against Kilmarnock on Sunday from a free-kick and his manager said that the 19-year-old had “shown he can deliver” from set-pieces.

“Sometimes he gets bullied out the way by Niall McGinn and others to take them, but he practices them religiously in training and hes got very good technique and he fancies himself to score from that distance, especially the one he scored from on Sunday,” McInnes added.

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