Aberdeen midfielder Niall McGinn ready to be pitched in after injury comeback

Niall McGinn has got himself back in contention for the start of the season.
Niall McGinn has got himself back in contention for the start of the season.

Niall McGinn insists he is ready to play if called upon by Aberdeen in the Europa League on Thursday.

The Northern Ireland international has timed his return from an ankle ligament injury to perfection after featuring for 30 minutes in the Dons 1-1 draw with Caley Thistle in Elgin on Saturday and says he is ready to play if manager Derek McInnes calls on him against RoPS in Thursday’s first leg at Pittodrie.

He said: “The squad is coming together nicely but I’m 100% ready to play if the manager needs me.

“It’s a big game and European nights under the lights at Pittodrie are great. Even last year against Burnley was great.

“I came to a big club like Aberdeen to challenge towards the top of the table, play in Europe, semi-finals and cup finals.

“I’ll do some extra stuff on Monday and Tuesday but it does take four or five games to get up to match speed. Nothing beats match fitness as it is completely different from running all the time.”

McGinn has returned to first team duty earlier than anticipated after undergoing surgery in April to repair his snapped ligament but while pleased to have made it back ahead of schedule the winger is adamant he has not rushed his return.

He said: “It’s a great feeling to be back. I had the operation nine weeks ago and I’m ahead of schedule which is pleasing for me.

Niall McGinn and Connor McLennan during pre-season training.

“I owe a lot of thanks to the surgeon and physios for helping me get back and I’m delighted to be back on the pitch playing with the boys again.

“It’s been a frustrating three months for me as I’ve missed some internationals too when I was back in the fold but I’ve been back since June 6 and the work has been worthwhile.

“Walking up and down those hills in San Francisco and cycling across the (Golden Gate) bridge has been helpful. To get some minutes before the game on Thursday is brilliant.

“I’ve had a nice couple of weeks off since the operation and I just want to get back playing with Aberdeen. It is a long season and I’ve had injuries before so I used the experience of not rushing and trusting myself to know when it was right.

“I’ve only joined in with the first-team for two days but getting game time was a big step.
“It’s one of those ones now where it’s up to the manager to decide how much I can play.”

Curtis Main scored Aberdeen’s goal from the penalty spot to give them the lead against Inverness but Brad McKay cancelled out the Dons opener midway through the second half.

Greg Leigh limped off with an ankle injury in the game while Craig Bryson did not feature due to the Dons boss’ concerns about the playing surface at Borough Briggs.