Dons boss Derek McInnes today backed Graeme Shinnie and Scott McKenna to shine for Scotland – but faces a sweat on them returning injury free from international duty.
Pittodrie skipper Shinnie and McKenna are both in Alex McLeish’s squad for tomorrow’s UEFA Nations League clash with Israel in Haifa.
The Scots top Group C-1 having defeated Albania 2-0 last month.
Scotland also face Euro 2016 holders Portugal, minus Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, in a friendly at Hampden on Sunday. McKenna is gunning for a fifth cap while Shinnie has played three times for his country.
McInnes reckons they will both impress if given the nod by McLeish.
However, with eight players ruled out by injury for the 4-1 defeat of St Mirren, the Dons gaffer is desperate to see both return fully fit.
He said: “Scott and Graeme will both do their club and country proud if Alex decides to play them.
“Both of their games are in a good place at the moment and hopefully they get that opportunity while away with Scotland.
“They are in good form and have both started the season at their own usual high standards.
“I am glad they both got their call-up as it is important to them.
“I am sure if called upon they will both do a job for Alex (McLeish).”
Following the international break the Dons face a massive double header starting with league leaders Hearts away on Saturday October 20.
The following Sunday (October 28) they play Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden.
McInnes had eight players out injured at the weekend, with McKenna suspended.
The centre-back is also banned for the Hearts clash.
McInnes hopes to have James Wilson, Stevie May, Scott Wright and Frank Ross back from injury after the break.
“Hopefully Scott and Graeme come back injury free because we need every player we can with the games coming up.
“We’ve got big challenges ahead of us in the forthcoming weeks and it’s important those two come through unscathed more than anything.”
A hamstring tear ruled McKenna out of the 4-0 friendly loss to World Cup semi-finalists Belgium and the UEFA Nations qualifier with Albania last month.
Shinnie came on as a second-half substitute against the Belgians.
McInnes insists, although the Portugal game is the glamour clash, it is the Israel match tomorrow that matters.
He said: “Against Belgium Graeme went up against top players and well recognised names.
“There is the Portugal friendly but the qualifying game is the most important one. I like the friendlies after the qualifier as I think that is better to then give players within the squad the opportunity to play.
“Focus when they meet up should always be on the qualifier. I hope we can get the result we want against Israel to keep that momentum going and hopefully our lads are involved.
“But the Portugal game would be another test for them and help their own personal development.”
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