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Why Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass chose Connor McLennan at right-back instead of Calvin Ramsay against Livingston

Aberdeen's Connor McLennan and Livingston's Craig Sibbald in action
Aberdeen's Connor McLennan and Livingston's Craig Sibbald in action

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass confirmed he dropped right-back Calvin Ramsay to the bench against Livingston to protect the teenager.

Glass was concerned Livingston could target the 17-year-old on the flank.

Ramsay has broken into the first team set-up in recent weeks and has marked his emergence with a number of impressive shifts in the starting line-up.

Right-back Ramsay started at right-back in the 3-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat to Dundee United – but was dropped to the bench to face Livi.

With Scotland U21 international Ross McCrorie unavailable with an ankle injury for the Livingston game, Ramsay was the only senior squad right-back available.

However, Glass opted to start winger Connor McLennan in that full-back berth at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The Aberdeen manager explained: “We put Connor McLennan in at right-back because we thought they might target if we played young Calvin.

“So we protected Calvin a touch and put Connor in there.”

McLennan came in for his first start since the Scottish Cup penalty shoot-out defeat of Livingston on April 17 and produced a solid performance in the unfamiliar full-back role.

Defensively he battled hard with left-sided attacker Craig Sibbald and limited his threat.

Aberdeen’s Connor McLennan is embraced by manager Stephen Glass at full-time against Livingston.

McLennan also had a key role in the Dons opening goal when he drove to the edge of the penalty area from the right flank before picking out Florian Kamberi with a pass.

As McLennan continued his run into the box, Kamberi passed to Niall McGinn, who whipped in a cross that found the stand-in right-back.

McLennan’s downwards header was parried up on to the underside of the cross-bar by keeper Max Stryjek and striker Callum Hendry showed his predatory instinct to bundle the rebound over the line from close range.

As can be shown from McLennan’s touch map for the 90 minutes against Livingston, the 21-year-old was highly involved on the right hand side in both a defensive role and also offensively.

Connor McLennan overall heat map for entire game v Livingston. Supplied by Opta

McLennan had two touches inside the opposition box with one of them that vital header the keeper pushed against the bar in the lead up to the opening goal.

The Scotland U21 international also drove into dangerous areas on the flank.

However, it was predominantly in a supporting role as he did not deliver any crosses into the penalty area.

Defensively he had seven duels with a 71.4% success rate and only conceded one foul.

The touch map indicates McLennan was more influential in the first half at Livingston.

Connor McLennan touch map for first half against Livingston<br />Supplied by Opta

In the second half, McLennan was more restricted to defensive duties in his own half as his powerful runs down the flank to support the attack became limited.

He had only three touches in the Livingston half in the second 45 minutes, albeit one of those was in a dangerous area  close to their penalty spot.

Connor McLennan heat map for second half against Livingston<br />Supplied by Opta

Although McLennan produced a solid performance at right-back both defensively and going forward, it is unlikely he will start in that role should Ross McCrorie recover from an ankle injury in time to face Hibs at Pittodrie on Wednesday May 12.

Stats for Connor McLennan v Livingston. Supplied by Opta

However, if McCrorie is ruled out, boss Glass will have a conundrum regarding the right-back position in a must-win game in the fight to overhaul Hibs in third spot.

Does he stick with McLennan or pitch in teenager Ramsay?

The 17-year-old only made his first team debut as a late substitute in the 1-0 loss to Dundee United on March 20.

Aberdeen’s Calvin Ramsay (L) and Jamie Robson of Dundee United battle for the ball.

He has made two starts in the Scottish Cup, against Dumbarton and Dundee United, and has featured four times off the bench in the Premiership.

Although inexperienced, Ramsay has impressed and was superb in the 1-1 draw against Celtic when he came on after just 14 minutes for the injured McCrorie.

Ramsay’s touch map from that 76 minutes against Celtic confirms he is defensively robust while also offering an outlet and threat in attack on the flank.

Calvin Ramsay heat-map against Celtic. Supplied by Opta

Ramsay is one of two full-backs that have progressed from the youth ranks to break into the first team in recent months with left-back Jack MacKenzie also impressing.

MacKenzie missed the 3-0 Scottish Cup loss to Dundee United as he was cup-tied, having featured in the competition earlier this season while on loan at Forfar.

Glass pitched him back into the starting line-up against Livingston and praised the 20-year-old for the way he handled dangerman Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ physicality and skill during the game.

Emmanuel-Thomas was predominantly on Livi’s right, up against MacKenzie.

He netted late on to make it 2-1, but that was via a sensational volley.

Glass said: “Emmanuel-Thomas is a very good player and Jack showed great strength and strength of character.

“Playing against a young one they can semi-target that side of the pitch.

“But Jack stood up to everything and his use of the ball was great as well, which was pleasing.”