Mikey Devlin’s call-up to the Scotland national team is down to his own hard work.
That is the view of manager Derek McInnes, who has overseen Devlin’s return from a serious knee injury to become part of Alex McLeish’s national setup in less than a year.
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.
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 said: “Mikey came from a way back and we were keen for him to get a full pre-season to get him up and running. He’s been very consistent with his performances and we’re delighted with his contribution so far. He’s young enough to keep getting these improvements from his game.
“Considering where he was this time last year or even a few months ago, it’s great that he’s now in the international squad on the back of his consistent performances for us.
“It’s 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.”
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.
McInnes added: “I don’t think it’s hugely important to have an off-field relationship – on the pitch is what matters. We haven’t always had the option to play them together with injuries and suspensions but when we have done, there’s enough to suggest potential for a good partnership.
“It’s important to keep striving to better individually and hopefully a partnership can keep developing through time together on the pitch. It certainly doesn’t do them any harm that they’re good friends off the pitch.”