Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes Ronny Hernandez is ready for the rigours of Scottish football after regaining his fitness during lockdown.
The Venezuelan international had a slow to his Dons career following his move from Stabaek in January but the right back has worked hard to put himself in contention for Saturday’s Premiership opener against Rangers at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “Looking back it was tough for Ronny when he first arrived. He was at a new club in a new country playing in a new league and he joined us having to start behind his team-mates in terms of his fitness.
“It has been a challenge for him but he has showed a willingness to everyone to do well and the good thing for me is that he has not missed a beat in training.
“It has been tough off the pitch with his family away out of the country but that has allowed him to concentrate on his football.
“He is a boy who everyone is desperate to see do well but we have to remember he is still young. He’s a promising young player who is working hard to improve.”
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos is expected to feature at Pittodrie despite interest from Lille in taking the Colombian to France.
Whether Morelos does face the Dons remains to be seen but McInnes insists his side must focus on themselves.
He said: “When you are preparing for a game you always plan and prepare for the opposition and we would expect him to be in it. He’s a very good player but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves.
“When the teamsheet comes in we’ll deal with whatever personnel we’re facing and our focus is purely on producing a performance.
“We feel Saturday was a big step forward for us in terms of our preparation and we are ready for a competitive game. We know this weekend we will have to be.”
McInnes expects to have a near full strength squad to choose from on Saturday.
He said: “The boys are coming through pretty good and as it stands only big Mikey Devlin has been ruled out for Saturday.
“We’re keeping an eye on Sam Cosgrove, Ash Taylor and Shay Logan but Dylan McGeouch has been training this week and Mike Virtanen is due back tomorrow so we’re hoping they will all make it.
“It’s probably to be expected after such a long gap between games and losing Mikey was a big blow but we’re getting more numbers on the training pitch as each day goes by and we think we’ll be in good shape by Saturday.”
One man who seems certain to be involved in some capacity is Jonny Hayes, who is set for his debut following his return from Celtic last month.
The Irishman featured as a wing back in the 1-1 draw with Hibernian on Saturday and McInnes is pleased to have a player of Hayes’ versatility available.
He said: “Jonny has played at left back for part of pre-season but he has also played left wing-back and he can play on either wing. Jonny can play all four roles.
“I know wherever he is asked to play Jonny will deliver a performance. His speed and drive is infectious and it’s fantastic to have him back with us.”